The Vikings have had some outstanding linebackers who played important roles in the team’s dominant defences through the years; here are the ten best.

10) Jack Del Rio: Selected to one Pro Bowl in four seasons, Del Rio started all 57 games he played in from 1992-95. He intercepted 10 passes, returning one for a touchdown; recorded 7.5 QB sacks; forced three fumbles, and recovered five.

9) Mike Merriweather: Starting each of the 63 games he appeared in from 1989-92, Merriweather registered 10 sacks and intercepted 7 passes, returning two for touchdowns. He also recovered 7 fumbles, taking one back for a score. Remembered for blocking a punt in an overtime game against the Rams that bounced out of the end zone for a safety, winning the game for the Vikes.

8) Lonnie Warwick: Warwick played in 92 games and started 75. The middle linebacker in a defense that dominated opponents’ offenses in 1968, 1969, and 1970, he intercepted 12 passes, recorded 7.5 sacks and recovered 6 fumbles in his eight year career with the Vikes.

7) Fred McNeil: Playing in 167 games and starting 122 at outside linebacker during his 12 years with the team, McNeil recovered 16 fumbles, intercepted 7 passes, and recorded 13 quarterback sacks.

6) Ed McDaniel: The team leader in tackles for loss with 90.5, he ranks second among Viking linebackers with 20.5 sacks. McDaniel is also sixth on the team with 17 forced fumbles. He has 5 fumble recoveries, intercepted 4 passes and was named to the Pro Bowl once during his nine seasons and 125 games, 109 starts, with the Vikings.

5) Wally Hilgenberg: A tough outside linebacker on the Vikings’ great defences of the late ’60s and throughout the ’70s, Hilgenberg played in 158 games, starting 118, in 12 seasons. He recovered 13 fumbles, recorded 8 sacks, picked off 8 passes and scored two touchdowns.

4) Roy Winston: In 15 seasons Winston played in 191 games, starting 158 at outside linebacker on dominant Viking defences in the late ’60s and early ’70s. A playmaker, he had 16 sacks and 14 fumble recoveries, both third among linebackers, and 12 interceptions, second among linebackers, and scored 3 touchdowns. He also is in fifth all-time with 68 tackles for loss.

3) Jeff Siemon: A key player as the middle linebacker on the team’s top defences in the mid-1970s, Siemon played in 156 games, starting 123, and was selected to four Pro Bowls during his eleven-year career with the Vikings. He forced 14 fumbles, recovered 11, had 6 QB sacks, and 11 interceptions.

2) Scott Studwell: Fifth in team history with 201 games played, Studwell started 161 at middle linebacker and was selected to the Pro Bowl twice in his 14-year career. He forced 12 fumbles, recovered 16, intercepted 11 passes, and had 9 QB sacks. He ranks ninth with 46 tackles for loss.

1) Matt Blair: Selected to six Pro Bowls in his 12 seasons, Blair played in 160 games, starting 130. He is fourth in forced fumbles with 19, third in fumble recoveries with 20, and tenth in tackles-for-loss with 44. His 23 sacks and 16 interceptions are first among Vikings linebackers. He also blocked 20 kicks in his career. Blair is the best linebacker in Minnesota’s history.


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