Recently, there’s been some talk about the Vikings teams of the late 90s and early oughts. The Atlanta Falcons are entering their first Super Bowl since a fateful, unnatural and hellish upset in the 1998 NFC Championship Game, spurring off a number of comparisons to the “Dirty Birds” of old. While the attention has mostly been on the star-crossed history of the Falcons since that game, it got me thinking about the players on the losing side. That game turned 18 years old on January 17th – in honor of its coming of age, we’ll track down each starter from that roster, and see what they’ve been doing for the better part of two decades.
QB Randall Cunningham
Cunningham’s post-NFL journey has been eventful. After becoming a born-again Christian, he become an ordained minister and founded a church in Las Vegas in 2004. A few years later, he was hired at Silverado High School where he still works today, as well as coaches the football team. He’s also published a self-help book.
RB Robert Smith
In addition to being a frequent contributor to ESPN’s Outside The Lines, as well as a college football analyst, Smith has made significant contributions outside of football. He created a foundation dedicated to funding cancer research and children’s hospitals. He’s also dabbled in acting, astronomy, and published a tell-all book of his own. His book, The Rest Of The Iceberg, looks at the violent nature of football, its obsession with celebrity, and why he retired.
Smith has spent the last decade and a half as an outspoken voice against the violent, body-crushing nature of football, but is not without his own demons. He struggled with alcoholism, becoming sober in 2006, but relapsing in 2011. He’s now a dedicated family man, who still appears as a college football analyst for Fox Sports and the Big Ten Network.
WR Cris Carter
Carter stayed in the league until 2003, when he quietly retired after an injury-plagued year with the Miami Dolphins. He may be the most well-known member of the 1998 Vikes, and doesn’t need much coverage. He’s spent most of his post-playing career in the media, covering football for HBO, Yahoo and ESPN. He’s a member of the St. Thomas Aquinas faculty, an assistant coach, and also sent his son Duron there.
Carter is also an ordained minister, and spends time speaking to various youth groups including several Rookie Symposiums.
WR Randy Moss
If Carter isn’t the most well-known member of the ’98 Vikes, Randy Moss is. Moss was a controversial character after his 1998 rookie season, touring Oakland, New England, coming back to Minnesota, then Tennessee and finishing out in San Francisco. He was the last 1998 Viking starter to remain in the league. It hasn’t been long since he retired, but has dabbled in the media (ESPN, NFL Network) as well as starting the Randy Moss Football Academy, where he’s worked with developing NFL receivers. He also coaches football in his home state of North Carolina at Victory Christian Center School.
WR Jake Reed
Reed now lives in Frisco, Texas, and became an entrepeneur, purchasing an Arena Football team and pizza place. He now spends most of his time volunteering and bring with his wife his two kids. His son, J.R., has a possibly bright future in football. He’s still close with Cris Carter, and lives a largely quiet life.
TE Andrew Glover
Glover was near the end of his NFL tenure in ’98, but the NFL stayed with him long after. Due to brain injuries sustained during his time in football, Glover filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL on behalf of all concussion victims, along with his wife Mary in 2012. This was one of many similar lawsuits. In 2013, the NFL settled the lawsuit by dedicating $765 million to fund concussion-related research.
LT Todd Steussie
After Steussie’s NFL career ended in 2007 (he journeyed from Minnesota to Carolina to Tampa Bay to St. Louis), he completed his marketing degree at UC Berkeley. He then got his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, and got heavily involved in analytics. He bought into a company called PotentiaMetrics, which uses medical data science to project the outcomes of serious illnesses and their treatments.
At PotentiaMetrics, Steussie developed a free app called ScoutSight, which was meant to use analytics to project draft pick potential. His contributions have helped apply data science to medicine and football, and he continues to work in that field.
LG Randall McDaniel
McDaniel’s career coasted to a close in 2001. He was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2006, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009. He’s spent most of his time in public education since retiring. He’s volunteered in schools, quietly basking in his post-induction glory.
C Jeff Christy
Christy only played until 2002, and retired after winning a Super Bowl in Tampa Bay that year. His retirement was somewhat forced when he refused to take a pay cut heading into 2003. He now works at Knoch High School as an assistant head coach and as a home fixer-upper.
RG David Dixon
RT Korey Stringer
Most Vikings fans know Stringer’s story. In 2001, he passed away due to heat stroke complications. Stringer’s widow filed a wrongful death lawsuit, which was settled in 2011. One year prior, the University of Connecticut started an institute in his honor that is dedicated to spreading awareness of the dangers of heat illness. 2012’s CBA, and its influence on NFL training camp practices, was partially influenced by Stringer’s tragic passing.
DE Derrick Alexander
Derrick Alexander only played one more year in the NFL and retired at the age of 26. He spent his final year in Cleveland, and then moved into their front office for a couple years. He also coached high school football in Spring Hill, Florida. In 2015, he was arrested for a DUI in Tampa, Florida.
DE John Randle
In addition to Randle’s Hall of Fame honors and NFL legacy, Randle has found golf in retirement. His son, Jonathan, overcame tremendous odds as an infant and is a healthy child. He set up St. David’s Center Tee Up for Tomorrow Golf Tournament in 2015, which raised $13.7 million. He frequently hits the golf course with Randall McDaniel.
DT Jerry Ball
In addition to providing yet another veteran voice on the dangers of concussions, Ball has adopted an entrepreneurial facet to his life. In 2012, he started his own company, Invictus Partners, which he still runs today. Invictus Partners is a consulting firm that focuses on financial literacy as well as having a positive community impact.
DT Tony Williams
There’s not much information on Tony Williams’ post-NFL life, but the way his career ended has a legacy all its own. Williams stayed with the Vikings until 2000 before leaving for Cincinnati, but in 2004 he suffered a terrible injury. A chop block from Broncos right tackle George Foster broke his leg, and he never played a snap again. The controversy over these blocks raged time and time again until chop blocks were banned this past season.
LB Dixon Edwards
Edwards retired after the 1998 season, and went on to form a company of his own. The company, S.A.M. (Sports, Arts & Media) mentors 8th-12th grade students, giving them guidance and vocational training to mold them for futures in artistic or sports-related careers.
LB Ed McDaniel
McDaniel became an entrepreneur, like many of these former ’98 Vikes. He owns D1 Sports Training, an athletic training center in Greenville, SC. He’s also had some not-so-positive press in terms of property he owns in Excelsior, MN. With water and heating bills piling up, McDaniel’s reputation as a landlord isn’t quite as rosy as his reputation as a Viking.
LB Dwayne Rudd
Rudd was only in Minnesota for two years after the ’98 season, and played out the rest of his career in Tampa and Cleveland. He had a daughter in 1998, and in 2009 plead guilty to failing to pay more than $540,000 in child support.
CB Corey Fuller
Fuller has a degree in child development, which he uses today as a motivational speaker. He mostly speaks to youth, drawing on his experience in the NFL with injuries, cuts and heartbreak. He coaches college football in Tallahassee, and you can find his pep talks and speeches on YouTube.
CB Jimmy Hitchcock
Hitchcock’s post-NFL story has a much grimmer tone. In 2013, he plead guilty to his role in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud conspiracy. He’s still in prison today. Hitchcock’s participation in the scheme ran particularly deep, from forging mortgage checks to bribing bank insiders. Ultimately, the scheme pulled in $4.5 million before they were caught.
S Robert Griffith
Griffith left the Vikings in 2002, and retired in 2006. In 1998, he set up the Robert Griffith Foundation, which provides college scholarships to underprivileged high school seniors. Since he started it, it’s funded 32 scholarships for at-risk or economically disadvantaged high school seniors. He’s also president of Matador Enterprises, an avid cycler and well-traveled.
S Orlando Thomas
Thomas’s life was marred with struggles throughout its entirety. After the 1998 season, he married his wife Demetra, but assaulted her a year later. He retired in 2001, and was diagnosed with ALS in 2004. In 2014, he finally lost the battle, passing away in his home town of Crowley, Louisiana. He was 42.
K Gary Anderson
Perhaps the name most commonly associated with failure in ’98, Anderson played until 2004, finishing his career out with the Titans. He is now an avid fly fishing spokesman, and you can buy an Anderson Custom Rod if you’re into that. He details more on his aptly-named website, www.garyandersonperfectseason.com.
P Mitch Berger
Berger played all the way until 2009 with seven different teams. He now lives in his home town of Vancouver and continues to be a personality on radio, TV and online. He also sits on the board of directors for the Korey Stringer Institute. Berger is extremely involved philanthropically, throwing charity golf events and supporting a number of Parkinson’s-related causes in honor of his late father.
Thanks for reading!