Mick Tingelhoff has done his waiting, over 30 years of it, and now the former Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl’er is simply ready for his moment. Tingelhoff is ready for the Hall.
And, after years, the Hall is ready for Tingelhoff.
An undrafted offensive lineman out of Nebraska, Tingelhoff made his impact known on the NFL as soon as he signed his free agent contract. He set records, started in an almost ridiculous amount of games and played in four Super Bowls. As former Cowboys executive Gil Brandt said, “It’s about darn time.” Here’s what you need to know about Tingelhoff:
1. Tingelhoff Played College Football at the University of Nebraska
Tinglehoff attended his hometown program, playing four seasons at the University of Nebraska although he didn’t start until his senior season in 1961. He was named captain of the team that year and led the Cornhuskers to its biggest offensive season in half a decade.
After his senior season was over, Tinglehoff played two more college-level games, competing in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Albama and the All-American Bowl. He was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1980.
2. He Went Undrafted in 1962 & Signed as a Free Agent With the Minnesota Vikings
Although he had interest from several NFL teams, Tingelhoff went undrafted in 1962, signing a free agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings. It may have been a less-than-auspicious start, but that one signing would go on to help define the Vikings for nearly two decades after.
Tingelhoff won the starting job at center as a rookie and spent the next 17 years competing in the trenches for Minnesota. He’s regularly regarded as one of the most dominant centers of his era, earning six trips to the Pro Bowl from 1964 to 1969 with four starts.
3. He Played in Four Super Bowls & Played in 240 Games
Tingelhoff was one of 11 players to play in all four of the Vikings Super Bowl appearances during the 1970s and while he was never able to lift the Lombardi Trophy, the Nebraska native’s on-field dominance was unquestionable.
It was also, seemingly, unbreakable.
Over the course of his 17 seasons, Tingelhoff started in 240 consecutive games, second only to his teammate Jim Marshall. He was named to the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2011 and also had his No. 53 jersey retired by the team. In 2011, Tingelhoff was named the recipient of the Gerald R. Ford Legends Award.
4. Tinglehoff’s Family Traveled From Across the Country to See His Hall of Fame Induction
When you wait this long to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, your family makes a particular point to be there to celebrate your moment. Tingelhoff’s family is no exception. During the Gold Jacket ceremony earlier this weekend, the Tingelhoff family took up two full tables.
There were tears shed then, as there will likely be tonight, but mostly there was just an overwhelming sense of pride. Jazzmyn Tingelhoff, Mick’s granddaughter told The Star Tribune:
I’m going to cry. We’re all going to cry. And it’s not him walking up to the stage and across the stage. It will be the jacket. Putting on that jacket means he has it. They can’t take it away from him. You know what I mean?
Of course, leading the Tingelhoff family charge is Mick’s wife of 54 years, Phyllis, who promised that her husbands induction speech will be “short and sweet.” Two of Tingelhoff’s two sisters will also be in the Canton crowd while his former Vikings teammate Chuck Foreman drove nearly 12 hours from the Twin Cities to be there.
5. He Was Voted Into the Hall by Its Senior Committee
Nearly 37 years after he played his final professional football game and another 32 since he was eligible for election to the NFL Hall of Fame, Tingelhoff has finally earned the honor, nominated by the Hall of Fame’s senior committee for consideration by the board of electors.
Although many of his contemporaries, and even some of his successors, have questioned what took so long, those who know Tingelhoff are simply happy to see their friend finally receiving his due. His former coach Bud Grant told Minnesota NPR:
Mick was a catalyst for our team and one of the most respected players on those teams. I have no doubt that had he not played center he would have been a Hall of Fame linebacker. He played center with the mentality and tenacity of a linebacker. 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.
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for Tingelhoff since he arrived in Canton. When asked if he thought this moment would ever come, the long-time Vikings standout replied simply, saying, “Not really.”
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