Rookie Percy Harvin returned kicks, he ran the ball, and he caught it. In the middle of the third quarter of his first NFL game, he scored on a six yard td pass from Brett Favre. He totaled nearly 160 yards touching the ball eight times. Coaches, players, and fans alike are touting the new sensation to the Minnesota offense.
However, I cannot help but reminisce of a player drafted thirty-six years ago. Chuck Foreman, like Percy Harvin, from the state of Florida, was drafted with the 12th pick of the 1973 NFL Draft. Foreman instantly brought an electricity to an offense that was in need of jumping.
The Vikings had a regular season record of 35-7 from 1969 to 1971. While they made it to Super Bowl IV, the next two years were quick, surprise exits in the playoffs. General Manager Jim Finks traded for Fran Tarkenton to change all that, but the 1972 season ended worse than the years led by Joe Kapp, Gary Cuozzo, Norm Snead, and punter Bob Lee. The 7-7 record was frustrating for fans who suddenly expected more from their fledgling franchise. Tarkenton had brought us excitement, but not winning football. That would all change after the draft...
Chuck Foreman began his career in 1973 against the Raiders, and he too scored in his first game. He totaled nearly 80 yards both running and catching the ball. It made sense. At the University of Miami, Foreman played running back, wide receiver, and even defensive back. He was the most versatile player the Vikings had ever seen, and Minnesota quickly parlayed those skills into three Super Bowl visits in four years, with only the robbery known as the 'Hail Mary ' play by the Cowboys interrupting their success.
Foreman had over 1,100 total yards his rookie year, in what would be 3/4 of a season today. He was named Rookie of the Year. Fans who were lucky enough to watch him will remember the chills created when he touched the ball. One-on-one would be tacklers had little chance. His moves were leagues more instinctive than the previous leading rushers: Clinton Jones, Bill Brown, or Dave Osborne. Even fancy newcomer Ed Marinaro could not hold a candle to Foreman.
Now Harvin enters, and brings highlight footage a new star. Sure Adrian Peterson is more important, and maybe the most impressive running back in Vikings history, but it is the versatility of players like Harvin, or Foreman, that give defenses cause for alarm. Those three Super Bowl visits in the 1970s were probably best attributed offensively to the addition of Foreman. I am hopeful that 2009 brings the same success because Harvin certainly brings similar versatility to our offense. And the chills.