EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings are sending condolences to the family of Hugh McElhenny, a Pro Football Hall of Fame member and the leading rusher for Minnesota's inaugural 1961 team.
McElhenny passed away Thursday at age 93. He was the fourth-oldest living Gold Jacket, behind Charley Trippi (100), Marv Levy (96) and Vikings Ring of Honor Head Coach Bud Grant (turned 95 in May).
Nicknamed "The King" during his rookie 1952 season with San Francisco, McElhenny arrived in Minnesota via the expansion draft through which the Vikings selected three "unprotected" players from already existing teams to fill out the roster for the 1961 inaugural season.
The Vikings tabbed McElhenny after he had made five Pro Bowls and garnered two First-Team All-Pro selections from The Associated Press during his nine seasons with the 49ers (1952-60).
He more than helped fill a spot for the Vikings in 1961, rushing for a team-best 570 yards on 120 carries. He scored three rushing touchdowns and returned a punt 81 yards for another score. McElhenny caught 37 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns from rookie — and fellow eventual Hall of Famer — Fran Tarkenton that season.
McElhenny joined receiver Jerry Reichow as the first two Vikings players selected to the Pro Bowl after starting all 13 games he played in 1961. He returned to Minnesota for the 1962 season before closing his career with the New York Giants (1963) and Detroit Lions (1964).
The ninth overall pick of the 1952 NFL Draft out of Washington, McElhenny finished his career with 5,281 yards and 38 rushing scores, along with 3,247 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns on 264 receptions.
At the time of his retirement, McElhenny was one of just three players with more than 11,000 all-purpose yards.
He was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's All-1950s Team and enshrined in Canton in 1970.
McElhenny's No. 39 jersey is one of 12 retired by the 49ers.