Twenty years ago today, Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Korey Stringer passed away due to heat stroke. The unfortunate loss of Stringer caused many changes across the NFL when it comes to practices at training camp during the warmer months. What would have happened if Stringer remained alive.
Let’s start with the 2001 season. The Vikings just came off of a 41-0 loss to the New York Giants and the expectations were high for the Vikings coming into season.
Cris Carter put retirement off with the assumption that the Vikings were going to make a serious run at the Super Bowl. After the loss of Stringer that was not the case. With going 5-11; head coach Dennis Green ultimately lost his head coaching gig, and it was a struggle to recover for many years after Stringer lost his life.
With Korey Stringer protecting Daunte Culpepper’s blind side, Daunte was already a star after his first full year as a starting quarterback in the National Football League. You put Stringer on that 2001 squad and the Minnesota Vikings would be a playoff team at minimum.
With a playoff team in 2001, we can guarantee at least two things. The first thing is that Green would still be the head coach for the Vikings. The second guarantee would be that the Vikings wouldn’t be drafting seventh the following year and Bryant McKinnie would not be in Minnesota.
With Green being one of the most influential men in Randy Moss’s career the duo would have been in Minnesota longer. That means no Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona, as Green made the decision to draft Fitzgerald as his first full season in Arizona.
With Green remaining the Vikings head coach and Randy Moss staying in Minnesota, does the fake moon against the Packers happen? Who knows the 2004 season would have been a different outcome, so that fake moon in the Playoffs would not be a signature move of Moss.
Assuming that Green stays in Minnesota, the trade with the Raiders to obtain the seventh overall pick does not happen. Vikings fans would breathe a sigh of relief as the Troy Williamson experiment would have been avoided.
Also, assuming Moss remains a Viking for life that would mean no Moss and Brady in New England for those three years. Culpepper was on his way to being a superstar after the 2000 season. Assuming that Culpepper has the protection of Stringer, Daunte would have had a different offensive line protecting him as he progresses to be an even better quarterback for the Vikings for years to come.
Assuming that Culpepper would have been a franchise quarterback for years to come since Fran Tarkenton and Tommy Kramer, Culpepper doesn’t get traded to Miami. With the Dolphins missing out on Culpepper, the Dolphins go after Drew Brees. Now that Brees is in Miami who knows what happens in New Orleans with their quarterbacks.
What we know by these series of events is that Bountygate doesn’t happen, and Brees doesn’t have the celebrated career during his 15 years in New Orleans.
With Culpepper staying in Minnesota we know a few things here.
No Tavarius Jackson, No Brett Favre with the Vikings, No Donovan McNabb with the Vikings, and most likely no Christian Ponder. Would Culpepper be in the NFL Hall of Fame by these series of events who knows. Now that we know that Dennis Green remains the head coach for the Vikings, we know a few things. Mike Tice isn’t a NFL Head Coach in Minnesota.
Brad Childress doesn’t get his head coaching experience with the Minnesota Vikings, which in turn means no Adrian Peterson at #7 in the 2007 NFL Draft. Adrian Peterson made a ton of memories in Minnesota including 296 against the San Diego Chargers and 2097 yards in 2012 coming off an ACL tear.
With Green staying as head coach those memories would have been elsewhere. Jared Allen would have been on a different team in 2008 with Kansas City finding a different trade partner for the services of Jared Allen. That would also mean no Leslie Frazier, and potentially no Mike Zimmer as Vikings head coaches following the 2001 season.
Would the Minnesota Vikings have at least one Super Bowl Trophy? No one really knows.
However, one thing we do know is simply this. The NFL would be a completely different league if Stringer remains alive today. How one’s passing impacts the league is really an eye opener if you look at it from a historical standpoint.
Also, if the Vikings continued to be competitive how does that impact the new stadium. The most likely scenario here is that the stadium gets done faster. The site of the stadium could also potentially be changed.
For example, instead of staying at the Metrodome, the Vikings could be at a site like Arden Hills in the north suburbs. As Stringer continues to be remembered across the league, he will always be an icon in the state of Minnesota.