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Thursday, January 16, 2014
NFLN survey/franchise player: Vikings

By Ben Goessling

It's probably no coincidence that all 10 Minnesota Vikings players surveyed for ESPN's NFL Nation Confidential survey named a quarterback when asked whom they would take if they had to start a team with one player. New England's Tom Brady, Denver's Peyton Manning and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers claimed all 10 votes, from a team that's been without a consistent starting quarterback for almost a decade and might not have had a bona fide franchise QB since Fran Tarkenton in the 1970s.

But the Vikings were hardly alone in that opinion. Of the 320 players ESPN surveyed, more than 220 provided the name of a quarterback when they were asked that question. Manning won the ballot, with 62 votes -- six more votes than Andrew Luck, his successor in Indianapolis. Brady finished third with 41 votes, Rodgers came in fourth with 40 and Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson finished fifth with 37. Johnson finished higher than any non-quarterback, and then the results dropped all the way down to Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who finished sixth with 20 votes.

It's impossible to know how every player answered the question, and Manning's age (37) might have led some players around the league to vote for Luck, who's the only quarterback in his 20s among the top four. But it's a hypothetical question, and if we're answering regardless of age, it's hard to come up with a name other than Manning, who just finished the most prolific season by a quarterback in NFL history.

Vikings players who voted for Manning certainly admired what he did this season, and given the team's current state at quarterback, the Vikings can't be blamed for wishing they had someone such as Manning, whose father finished his career playing in the Metrodome. As the Vikings prepare to possibly select their next quarterback in this spring's draft, Manning is still the gold standard of what they'd hope to find.