Vikings history: Two backs at a time

  • Article by: CHRIS MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 8, 2007 - 2:55 PM

1961

3-11 record, 135.5 rushing yards per game

Key backs: Hugh McElhenny and Mel Triplett

McElhenny 570 rushing yards, 37 receptions; Triplett 407 rushing yards.

• In the Vikings' first season, McElhenny, 32, made the Pro Bowl in the last standout season of his Hall of Fame career. Rookie Tommy Mason, the No. 1 overall choice in the draft, waited in the wings.

1963-1965

1963: 5-8-1, 131.6 rush yds/game; 1964: 8-5-1, 155.9; 1965: 7-7, 162.7

Key backs: Tommy Mason and Bill Brown

1963: Mason 763 rushing yards, 40 receptions; Brown 445 rushing yards.

1964: Brown 866 rushing yards, 48 receptions; Mason 691 rushing yards.

1965: Brown 699 rushing yards, 41 receptions; Mason 597 rushing yards

• Brown was the fullback and Mason the halfback in the classic old-school backfield. Mason took over as the featured back in 1962 and made the first of three consecutive Pro Bowls. Brown was acquired from the Bears in 1962 and started to get lots of work in 1963. He would finish his career with a team-record 1,627 carries. Both backs made the Pro Bowl in 1964, the year the Vikings had their first winning season. In '65, the team set a record for rushing yards per game that still stands. In 1966, gimpy-kneed Mason was replaced by Dave Osborn.

1966-1971

1966: 4-9-1, 149.4 rush yds/game; 1967: 3-8-3, 129.4; 1968: 8-6, 137.2; 1969: 12-2, 132.1; 1970: 12-2, 116.7; 1971: 11-3, 121.1

Key backs: Bill Brown, Dave Osborn and Clinton Jones

1966: Brown 829 rushing yards, 37 receptions; Osborn 344 rushing yards

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