EAGAN, Minn. — Original Viking Frank Youso passed away Saturday, Oct. 8, at the age of 86.
The Vikings are mourning the loss and sending condolences to the family of the tackle who was acquired in the 1961 expansion draft ahead of Minnesota's first season.
Youso became the first Minnesota native (International Falls) and University of Minnesota Golden Gopher to play for the Vikings, starting at right tackle and teaming with Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton for the first two Vikings seasons.
"Frank Youso was a gentle giant and a great asset to us as our starting tackle in our first year back in 1961," Tarkenton said. "He was a big, powerful man who was a Minnesota guy through and through.
"He was the picture-perfect offensive tackle — a damn good player," Tarkenton added.
After starting 32 of 36 games for the New York Giants from 1958-60, the second-round pick was left among its unprotected players as the Minnesota franchise prepared to build its initial roster through an expansion draft.
Twelve of the 13 other teams (Dallas was exempt because it had begun play only one season before) had to make available a pool of up to eight players from their 38-men rosters.
The Vikings could then select three players from each team's pool of eight. Minnesota picked up both starting tackles (Youso and Grady Alderman from Detroit), as well as Hall of Fame running back Hugh McElhenny (San Francisco) during the expansion draft.
Youso's time with the Giants also included playing defensive tackle (because of an injury to Rosey Grier) for New York against the Baltimore Colts in the 1958 NFL Championship. That 23-17 overtime win by the Colts was dubbed "The Greatest Game Ever Played."
The Minneapolis Star reported on March 28, 1961, that Youso visited the Vikings headquarters the previous day to sign his contract but the Vikings had "assumed the one he had with the N.Y. Giants."
After two seasons with his home-state team, Youso played three more for the Oakland Raiders in the AFL from 1963-65.
Off the field, Youso owned a motel in International Falls and sold insurance. Classified ads later promoted "Frank Youso's PINE CREST LODGE On beautiful Lake Kabetogama."