After a decades-long wait, former Minnesota Viking great Mick Tingelhoff has taken his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Tingelhoff was inducted into the hall in Canton, Ohio Saturday evening along with seven other retired players and executives.
His former roommate and fellow Hall-of-Famer Fran Tarkenton introduced Tingelhoff, his "best friend and teammate," describing him as "one of the greatest offensive linemen of our era."
"I never knew Mick Tingelhoff to have a bad day," said Tarkenton during the taped presentation, adding that Tingelhoff was a "better protector of me off the field than on."
Tingelhoff did not speak to the crowd; instead, Tarkenton spoke briefly on his behalf, tearing up as he said Tingelhoff was proud to be a Hall-of-Famer and noting that it took him 37 years to get there.
According to the Star Tribune, Tingelhoff’s family decided against having him deliver a speech because of his health issues - including some memory loss - as well as exhaustion from the busy schedule of HOF activities over the past several days.
Tingelhoff is a veteran of the 1960s and ’70s who helped the Vikings get to the Super Bowl four times. He was named to the Hall of Fame in his 32nd year of eligibility.
“Mick was a catalyst for our team and one of the most respected players on those teams,” said former Vikings head coach Bud Grant, according to Vikings.com. “Mick’s intangibles were the thing that made him so great. He was a captain the whole time I coached him and guys looked at him as an example of how to do things.”
Tingelhoff joined the Vikings in 1962, and never missed a start in 240 regular season games and 19 playoff games during his 17-year NFL career, according to the team.
Tingelhoff earned All-Pro honors seven consecutive seasons (1964-1970) and was a Pro Bowl selection six consecutive years (1964-1969).
From 1962-1978, Tingelhoff played a crucial role in helping the Vikings to their 10 divisional titles and four Super Bowl appearances. He was the center who snapped the ball to Hall of Famer Tarkenton for years.
“I’m happier about Mick getting into the Hall of Fame than I was when I went into the Hall of Fame,” Tarkenton told the Star Tribune when he got the call in January.
Tarkenton hadn't been back to Canton since he was inducted in 1986. But he returned this week to help Tingelhoff celebrate.
Tingelhoff and Tarkenton were teammates for two different stretches, first from 1962-66, then again from 1972-78. The pair formed a bond that has lasted long after their football days.
The Daily Norseman noted that Tingelhoff is one of just 11 players to have played in all four of the Vikings’ Super Bowl appearances. Tarkenton was with Minnesota for three of them.
On Sunday evening, the Vikings will play in the Hall of Fame Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers – one of the teams Tingelhoff and the Vikings lost to during those four Super Bowls.