Editor's note: YCN contributor Chris Schad has compiled his list of the 10 greatest athletes for Minneapolis. Kirby Puckett claimed the top spot in user poll voting. Complete list is to the right.
The history of professional sports in Minnesota is a rough one.
Ask any Minnesotan on the street and he or she will tell you about Gary Anderson's missed field goal in the 1998 NFC championship game, or Joe Nathan's blown save in the second game of the ALCS in 2004. In fact, they might pull something else out of their bag of memories that you've never heard of, but they remember like it was yesterday.
In a nutshell, there's been a lot of heartbreak in the state. However, that doesn't mean it hasn't had its share of elite talent.
To be in those situations is a testament of the great players that have worn a Minnesota uniform for a majority of their careers. They were the pillar of their team's success during their prime and gave Minnesotans memories they will never forget -- even if they're bad ones.
In alphabetical order, here is list of Minneapolis' 10 greatest athletes:
Rod Carew (Twins, 1967-78)
Carew spent 12 years with the Twins, winning plenty of honors along the way: Rookie of the Year Award in 1967, AL MVP in 1977, seven batting titles, and an All-Star selection every year with the club. A true legend. Carew entered his rightful place in the Hall of Fame in 1991.
Cris Carter (Vikings, 1990-2001)
Carter was dominant with the Vikings after his arrival in 1990 and like the slogan said, all he did was catch touchdowns -- with 110 of his 130 scores coming in a Vikings uniform.
Kevin Garnett (Timberwolves, 1995-2007)
For the first six years of their existence, the Timberwolves didn't have much luck when it came to the NBA draft. Donyell Marshall, Pooh Richardson and Christian Laettner were all supposed to be the one cornerstone the team needed to get going -- but all failed.
That's when the 'Wolves decided to draft Garnett with the fifth pick in the 1995 draft.
Garnett would go on to become the symbol of Minnesota basketball during his career with the team and led the Timberwolves to their only years of success, including a trip to the 2004 Western Conference finals.
Harmon Killebrew (Twins, 1961-74)
One of Minnesota's first superstar athletes, Killebrew brought his legendary power to the Twins after coming over from the Washington Senators in 1961. In 14 seasons in Minnesota, "Killer" hit 475 of his 573 career home runs, with most of them landing in the far reaches of Metropolitan Stadium.
But it was Killebrew's demeanor off the field that made him a fan-favorite in his later years, as he became an ambassador for the franchise until he died of esophageal cancer in 2011.
Joe Mauer (Twins, 2004-present)
It's hard to put two active athletes on this list, but Mauer has earned the distinction for what he's become for the Twins.
A native of St. Paul, Minn., Mauer has been the face of the Twins after winning the 2009 American League MVP and three AL batting championships. The state sees him as its native son, cheering along with every hit. He doesn't have the championships that some of the other Twins players have, but he's definitely one of the most beloved players the state has ever seen.
Randy Moss (Vikings, 1998-2004, 2010)
Moss is one of the most polarizing figures in the history of the state, but he was one of the most feared receivers in the history of the NFL after his arrival in 1998.
With the team under new owner Red McCombs, there was fear in the state that the Vikings would eventually move to his hometown of San Antonio. But Moss was the first player to energize the team's fan base and scored 17 touchdowns in his rookie season while leading the team to the NFC championship game.
Even though the previously mentioned Anderson would cost the Vikings a trip to the Super Bowl, Moss was the first piece that made sure that the team was here to stay, eventually leading to the team's new stadium that will open in 2016.
Alan Page (Vikings, 1967-78)
The entire "Purple People Eaters" defensive line could make this list as a unit, but it's Page that has distinguished himself from the rest. Page was amazing on the field during his NFL career with the Vikings, as he led the team to four Super Bowl appearances and became the first defensive player to win the NFL MVP Award in 1971.
Page makes a bigger impact off the field. He is an associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and has established numerous foundations, such as the Page Education Foundation to help students of color through school in exchange for community service.
Adrian Peterson (Vikings, 2007-present)
Although Peterson is relatively young, he makes this list because of the impact he's made on the Vikings since his arrival.
The seventh overall pick in the '07 NFL draft has become one of the league's elite players and cemented that status in 2012 with his MVP season coming off a torn ACL. There are a couple of seasons left in Peterson's career to bring the first Super Bowl championship to the Twin Cities and with the fierce nature of his play, it's more than possible.
Kirby Puckett (Twins, 1984-95)
Puckett looked nothing like the hulking major-league sluggers of today's game, but he made up for that with tremendous effort and a smile that will never be forgotten.
To this day, Minnesotans can vividly see Puckett climbing the plexiglass fence at the Metrodome in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series and following it up with a walkoff home run in the bottom of the 11th inning -- with Jack Buck screaming, "And we'll see you tomorrow night!"
His untimely death in 2006 certainly dampened the hearts of Twins fans everywhere, but he remains the greatest player in the history of the franchise because of his attitude and accomplishments.
Fran Tarkenton (Vikings, 1961-66, 72-78)
Tarkenton amassed a number of impressive stats during his NFL career: sixth all time in passing yards (47,003), fourth in TD throws (342) and rushed for 32 career TDs. However, the nine-time Pro Bowler also has the stigma of coming up short in Super Bowls, going 0-3.
"The Scrambler", who rushed for 3,674 career yards, was the league's MVP in 1975 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame 11 years later.
Chris Schad is a lifelong Twins follower that has spent a majority of his life cheering the Twins on through the dark '90s and success of five American League Central championships in the 2000s. His work has also been published on Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @crishad.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Kevin Garnett