2012 was certainly a banner year for the Minnesota Vikings. A team projected to finish with roughly three wins blew their expected win total out of the water as they notched double digit 10 victories on the year, beat high profile playoff teams throughout the season, and snuck into the playoffs. But hardly any of that matters when you consider how great of a year it was for Shirtless Vikings.
The Shirtless Vikings phenomenon has slowly been growing to it's culmination in 2012. Occasionally we'd find old pictures of Daunte Culpepper without his shirt on, or a rookie Adrian Peterson in out-takes and various poses from his ESPN Magazine "The Body" issue photoshoot, but that was years ago. What about today? What about players we see on the regular, without their shirts on, showing their muscles, flexing like a boss, getting all sweaty and glistening in the summer sun, winking at school girls (and boys?) as they shoot water from Gatorade bottles into their open maws? Are these things just fantasy wishings or would they actually come true in 2012?
Well, they did come true, but the truth wasn't the only thing coming (I'm talking about lady parts, too). As we continue our review of the Minnesota Vikings 2012 season, we'd be remiss if we didn't take a look back at some of our top ranked and sought after Shirtless Minnesota Vikings pictures of the year, and award our first Shirtless Viking of the Year award, after the jump.
We scoured through our Shirtless Vikings photo gallery and cherry picked the top five Shirtless Vikings photos or instances from the past year, roughly. Obviously, it's hard to pick a FAVORITE, because anytime you see a shirtless football player IT'S A GOOD DAY, AMIRITE LADIES?!, but we made the tough decisions so you didn't have to. Below are our rankings, starting with …
5. Harrison Smith Shirtless in Rookie Photoshoot
We had a reader send these photos in of Harrison Smith undressing during a video interview on rookies early in the year. I never got around to watching the video myself, but I have to question what the purpose was of keeping the film rolling during his undressing, and then deciding "Yup, this is some of that A-reel footage we've been looking for, fellas, let's roll." I mean, besides recording him shirtless, of course. Naturally, the young buck here turned many heads as his chiseled frame pretty easily dropped him into Shirtless Vikings lore, and also was used to beat the shit out of other players on the field. Remember when he pretty much concussed Calvin Johnson early in the season? It likely ruined the Lions year.
4. Adrian Peterson, Shirtless Rehab Sessions
It seems like a joke now, but there was a time when Vikings fans and all NFL fans had no idea if Adrian Peterson would return to normal form after his ACL surgery. We weren't even sure if he would play to start the year, let alone start, and then almost break the single season rushing record. But he was able to do all of this because he trained hard to get back into shape, and – most importantly – understood that you don't get to that point unless you do it WITH YOUR SHIRT OFF. Also, if you were Adrian Peterson and you were cut like this, wouldn't you just always walk around shirtless? I sure as hell would. Of course, he also dressed up like the Incredible Hulk by just painting his chest green, which says a lot about how good he looks shirtless, right? Good lord.
3. Shirtless Christian Ponder Flexes in the Locker Room
The phenomenon that started it all when he did an interview with Dawn Mitchell from FOX 9 with his shirt off, Christian Ponder was kind enough in 2012 to slip in another couple of shirtless appearances when the Vikings video team snuck into the locker room after games to record after-game coach speeches. They also happened to "accidentally" frame Ponder in almost every shot, much to the benefit of all of us. I think we should all just be happy that he's still sharing the goods with us while his wife is probably trying to lock it down just for her. I mean, can you blame her?!
2. Greg Childs, the Shirtless Rookie
Forget about him? Greg Childs hit the scene and had the potential to be the greatest Shirtless Vikings player in history. As a young man with a low body fat percentage and a penchant for wearing leggings sans shirt, it seemed that a shirtless Greg Childs was showing up everywhere you turned. BOOM! Shirtless on Instagram. POW! Shirtless while practicing. BLAMO! Shirtless while standing next to his car, for some reason. Fine by us. And if it wasn't for his injury early in the year he probably would have won this year's Shirtless Viking of the Year Award. Instead, that honor goes to …
1. Chris Kluwe, Shirtless Everywhere
Has there ever been a punter that has taken the world by storm like Chris Kluwe? And shirtless the whole time, too! Kluwe has obviously always had a soft spot in the hearts of Purple Jesus Diaries readers for years now, ever since we found out he played Guitar Hero during training camp. 2012 though was the year when everyone else realized how cool he was too, and when he took shirtless photos for OUT magazine? The roof came off, as did the lady panties. Combine that with random locker room pictures and his "Operation Adrian Abs" pictures and you have your Shirtless Viking of the Year award winner. Well deserved.
Agree? Disagree? Want to just talk about more shirtless men? I'm game. Leave us your thoughts in the comments and if you find more shirtless photos now or throughout the offseason, of course be sure to send them to us to add to our gallery.