Skip to main content

The original Viking draft pick, Tommy Mason, dead at 75

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Tommy Mason, the first draft choice in the history of Minnesota Vikings football, has passed away at the age of 75.

The expansion Vikings liked Mason so much so that they picked him first overall in the 1961 NFL Draft – two rounds before selecting Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton.

Tarkenton, along with Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf and longtime team trainer Fred Zamberletti released statements remembering Mason.

“The entire Minnesota Vikings organization is saddened by the loss of Tommy Mason. As the team’s first-ever draft pick, Tommy played a significant role in the history of the franchise. After spending six seasons with the team, he remained a part of the Vikings family, appearing at multiple events over the past several decades. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mason family at this time.” – Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf

“Tommy was an enormous talent. He was a great player, a humble man and an outstanding teammate. I will always cherish the years I spent with Tommy.” – Vikings Hall of Fame Quarterback Fran Tarkenton

“Tommy was as complete of a running back as they come. Because of injuries, Tommy did not have the career that he wanted to have but he was a very talented, hard-running, slashing player. He’ll always be remembered as one of the original Vikings. He will be sorely missed.” – Team Historian and long-time Athletic Trainer Fred Zamberletti

Mason, who played his college ball at Tulane, played 11 seasons in the NFL. He went to three Pro Bowls and finished his career with 4,203 rushing yards and 32 rushing touchdowns. He added 2,324 receiving yards and 13 receiving touchdowns.

Not only was he an outstanding football player, he was also a pretty good spokesperson for a 1960s razor blade.

The Star Tribune's Patrick Reusse interviewed Mason in 2007, profiling his life as a football player. It's an exceptional story that reveals Mason's pet monkey that he named "Dutch," after former Vikings head coach Norm Van Brocklin.

Of his 11 seasons, Mason played the first six in Minnesota before spending four years with the Los Angeles Rams. He played his final season in 1971 with the Washington Redskins.

“Tommy was a great teammate and valued member of the Washington Redskins and the NFL,” Redskins President Bruce Allen said, according to CBS D.C. “Our entire organization sends its condolences to his family.”

Details on Mason's death were not immediately available.

Next Up

Pixabay - gray squirrel

Squirrel blamed for Friday power outage impacting over 5,000 homes

There's no telling when or where the squirrels will strike next.

Screen Shot 2022-09-30 at 8.11.55 AM

Seattle man federally indicted in massive Bloomington fentanyl bust

The case is believed to represent the largest fentanyl bust in the Midwest.

Screen Shot 2022-09-30 at 9.27.53 AM

Nicollet Diner to launch new, expanded home with a drag show

The new location will still feature the diner's classic offerings, as well as a new cabaret venue and cocktail lounge.

police tape, crime scene

Woman found dead at Minneapolis home was stabbed multiple times

LaTiffany Altanette Lessley was found dead in a north Minneapolis home Tuesday.

Screen Shot 2022-09-29 at 4.48.45 PM

Bloomington PD announce what's likely 'largest fentanyl bust in Midwest'

The case is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for the week ending Sept. 27

This week's report represents data collected Sept. 21-27.

Screen Shot 2022-09-29 at 2.56.10 PM

MN health officials warn of potential for measles outbreak amid rise in cases

A recent case among a child with no travel history is prompting heightened concern.

skid steer

Four-year-old boy dies in accident on western Wisconsin farm

The boy was struck by a skid steer, according to police.

Screen Shot 2022-09-29 at 2.41.51 PM

Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge hits the market for $6M

The restaurant will remain open while the property is on the market.

Screen Shot 2022-09-29 at 12.27.48 PM

Apartments, brewery proposed for site of former Minneapolis lumberyard

The developer is proposing two buildings connected via skyway.

Screen Shot 2022-09-29 at 1.27.38 PM

'Exceptionally rare' meteorite impact crater found in the Twin Cities metro

Had it struck in today's world, much of the Twin Cities would've been wiped out.

Grand Old Day

Organizers seeking ideas for 'reimagining' of Grand Old Day

A task force is set to begin meeting next month to reimagine the event.

Related