Commenter Stu tracks down a former Minnesota sports figure every week. With many folks making comparisons between the Les Steckel and Leslie Frazier Vikings, Stu takes a look back at Neil Elshire of the 1984 squad. Stu?
The Huntdown/The Most 1984 Minnesota Viking
Name: Neil Elshire
Backstory: much has been made of late about the 2011 Vikings challenging the 1984 Vikings for the title of Worst Team Ever. At 2-10, the Purple are threatening to eclipse the 3-13 benchmark for crapulence set during Les Steckel’s one-and-done. As noted by local salted pork enthusiast Michael Rand, it’s pretty clear that the 1984 team was worse, especially given how poorly they closed the season. For those of us old enough to have watched that team, this makes sense: they were wretched. This year’s model, while talent-challenged in a shocking number of places due to age, injury, alleged malfeasance and inept drafting, has played a number of close games and still has Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Jared Allen in their primes. That team had Alfred Anderson, Rufus Bess and Matt Hasselbeck’s dad, plus a few glory-years Vikings on their last legs (Matt Blair, Sammy White, Fred McNeil). To borrow a running bit from SB Nation’s wonderful Jon Bois, this led me to ask the question, who is the Most 1984 Minnesota Viking? After much deliberation, and the heartbreaking dismissal of Leo Lewis, the answer, of course, is Neil Elshire.
Claim to Fame, Minnesota: Elshire was a defensive end for the Vikings from 1981-86. His most noteworthy season was 1983, his first as a starter, when he tallied 9.5 sacks. In 1984, that number dropped to 3.5 as rival coaches no doubt game-planned to make Randy Holloway beat them. “Men, I promise you, on this day we will NOT let Neil Elshire beat us,” said Detroit Lions coach Monte Clark, I bet. “From hell’s heart, Billy Sims stabs at thee!” (This assumes Clark was a Herman Melville fan.)
Claim to Fame, Everywhere Else: The Oregon native played for the Ducks before Phil Knight made playing for the Ducks cool. The uniforms were a bit less ornate, a bit more “football movie where they don’t have the money to pay the NFL or NCAA to use licensed material.”
Where He Is Now: he has returned to Oregon, where he is the defensive coordinator for your 2011 Oregon 5A champion Mountain View High School in Bend, Oregon. He is married with five children.
Is He on Twitter: no.
Glorious Randomness: if you disagree that Elshire is the Most 1984 Minnesota Viking, feel free to state your case in the comments section. Before you even start, yes, I know Curtis “Boo Boo” Rouse was on the team. This wasn’t an easy decision, you turkeys!