The Minnesota Vikings drafted Stringer in the first round (24th pick overall) of the 1995 NFL Draft, and he played for the Vikings from 1995 to 2000. He was a standout on the offensive line, earning Pro Bowl honors in what turned out to be his final season in 2000. In six NFL seasons, he played in 93 regular season games and started 91 of them. He suffered from heat stroke during the Vikings 2001 preseason training camp, and died as a result of complications. The Vikings retired his jersey number 77 during the 2001 season.
Stringer's widow filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the team and doctors. Parts of her lawsuit were later thrown out; her suit against the NFL was settled in January 2009. The only disclosed term of the settlement is that the NFL will support efforts to create a heat illness prevention program. His widow also brought a lawsuit against Riddell Inc., the manufacturer of Stringer's pads and helmet. In July 2009, a federal judge determined that Riddell had a duty to inform Stringer that their equipment could contribute to heat injuries. A district court judge then ordered a jury trial regarding the matter.
Stringer's death brought about major changes regarding heat stroke prevention throughout the NFL. His death also addressed complications of pressuring players to "bulk up" to well over 300 pounds. Stringer, who at the time of his death was 6'4" and weighed 335 pounds, was at the lowest weight he had ever been in his pro career. Many professional football teams now train in light color uniforms, water and shade are made readily available, and a team doctor is at practice sessions at all times.