A 10-year-old was sent to school with a note from his mother about a dentist appointment.
He was picked up and sat in the car, which drove past the dentist's office.
His mother simply said, "We've got to go somewhere else first."
The destination was a small bookshop in Wayzata that was hosting a private signing with Fran Tarkenton.
Thirteen years later, that 10-year-old was walking the halls of Winter Park, first as an intern and then a full-time employee, building relationships with Bud Grant and Jerry Burns and others throughout the organization.
Fast-forward to 2020, and that same 10-year-old from 1978 was invited to speak at Tarkenton's 80th birthday.
In December 2022, the 23-year-old from 1991 was hosting a special event featuring Grant at the Minnesota Vikings Museum.
Whether 10, 23, or now 55, Bob Hagan's love for the Vikings is about all that exceeds his committed efforts to building and maintaining relationships.
Neither of those core principles has dissipated as Hagan has retired and shifted into a consultant role.
"Bob has unparalleled knowledge of Minnesota Vikings history and has developed strong relationships with the media, Vikings players and coaches throughout his 32-year career," Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf said. "He cares deeply about this organization, and his contributions to its success are significant."
Costume inspiration to close friend
Back in 1978, Hagan's mom knew just what meeting Tarkenton for the first time would mean to her son, who had already dressed up as the 1975 NFL MVP "four to five times for Halloween."
"My mom knew he was my boyhood idol. She took me [to the bookstore], and I was overwhelmed," Hagan recalled. "Even at that age, I was thinking, 'What am I going to say to him?'
"I walked up to him, and he was very nice. I can still see it in my mind today," he continued. "He looked up at me and I said, 'You and I have the same birthday,' and he goes, 'Wow, then your birthday must be February the 3rd.' I looked at him, and I'm like, 'How did he know that?' Even though I had just told him we have the same birthday."
Hagan relayed that story, which he had told at Tarkenton's milestone party in Atlanta, where he was one of the guests invited to speak formally.
"When things come full circle, it's kind of neat," he said with the humility of someone aware he has lived a dream. "Today, he's a close friend of mine and we communicate so much. He loves to follow the Vikings. How many other people in the world have the person they grew up liking become somebody involved in their life?"
Tarkenton calls Hagan on average three times a week to chat about the NFL, college football and other topics while continuing their friendship.
"I have great respect for the Wilf brothers, and I think they've done a great job – but Bob has become a friend," Tarkenton said. "And it's way beyond just the Vikings.
"He is authentic to the core. In a world that we have all kinds of crazy, crazy people, this guy is authentic," Tarkenton added. "And he has been my biggest connection to the Vikings since I retired a hundred years ago. And I appreciate that because, you know, we have a few alumni, right? We have a few thousand, probably, alumni, and Bob Hagan was always there. We chat a lot, and it's always good to talk to him. He bleeds Purple. He's smart, he's talented and he's authentic."
The early days
Hagan came by bleeding Purple honestly.
He remembers his youth when his mother — the "kindest, sweetest" lady — answered the home phone during Sunday road games with, "Don't you know the Vikings are playing? Hagan residence."
Bob's start in the Twin Cities media market began with an internship at KARE 11 with Randy Shaver.
"I just remember him being very curious. Just trying to soak in as much as he could," Shaver recalled. "Loved sports. All kinds of sports. But just really wanted to kind of see the workings of how a TV station gathers their information, and I think that helped him in his job here."
Hagan was able to benefit from ample hands-on learning opportunities while he was a student at Iowa State. The next year, he reached out to Dan Endy, who was with the Vikings PR department.
"I came in for an informational interview, and I left with an internship," Hagan said.
"At that point, it was really, you're going to come and work for us, really, then training camp was five or six weeks long for the month of July, maybe a little bit longer, and if you rise to the top, it would be a season-long thing."
The NFL was implementing "Plan B" free agency in those years, and the process created the need for additional help. Under Endy's direction, Hagan kept coming into the building as a temporary employee and eventually was hired in a full-time role.
"Looking back, it was far-and-away the best thing — the best thing I ever did with the Vikings was hire Bob Hagan," Endy said.
Bud Grant was "the only coach" Hagan knew of during formative years. After growing up thinking Grant "was the greatest" — and rather than being intimidated by the legend's stature — Hagan formed a relationship from his early days with the organization that lasted through Grant's death at age 95.
"He's an amazing figure for this state, for our league, for our community," Hagan said.
If Bud was THE COACH, Sid Hartman was THE COLUMNIST for Hagan, who grew to know and love both beyond their first-name fame. Hagan provided assistance to Hartman that changed over the years until Hartman passed away in 2020 at age 100.
"It's kind of funny, when I first started working here, he was 70 years old, and people are like, 'Hey, you're not going to have to worry about that guy. He's not going to be here much longer,' " Hagan recalled, "and there he was with me for another 30 years, so I'm glad I didn't listen to that and not take a liking to him."
Hartman took a liking to Hagan, as well, and relayed it to Grant when Hagan was the new guy and jumping at every opportunity to help. Hagan earned the respect and trust of both.
"It's like, you know, I'm helping Bud Grant at the time, so no problem," Hagan said. " 'What do you need done? Do you want me to put the stamps on your mail?' Whatever it took, and he knew I knew Vikings history well off the bat, and it didn't take long because I had developed such a good relationship with Sid, and Sid would always want to come in and see Bud and Sid would say good things to Bud about me, something that just all worked out."
It wasn't long before they were genuinely connected for a friendship that would include Hagan receiving an invite to Grant's cabin and moderating the Minnesota Vikings Museum event that became one of the Hall of Fame coach's final public appearances.
In an interview in December, Grant explained: "When you're in the same building for a number of years, through your daily contact or office down the hall, whether it's lunch or practice or whatever it is, you form a relationship. 'Trust' is not the right word, but you form a relationship that respects his knowledge and work ethic."
"Around the league, if you go to other teams and look at the turnover they have in any department, not only the coaches and players, but the internal operations of any team, you can look and see people who have been there for a long time, you know they're doing a great job, and Bob has done that," Grant added. "He's recognized all over the league by what he's been able to bring to the Vikings and the league."
Hagan was able to connect with Burns in his final season as head coach, but game days became even more special to Hagan after Burnsie left the sidelines.
The colorful character was making appearances in suites after his retirement, but he still wanted to be able to focus on the game. He asked Hagan, "Where can I go?"
Hagan replied: " 'You can sit right next to me in the press box,' and he did that for the next 28 years. We became great, great friends, went to so many lunches together outside of the facility."
Burnsie passed away at age 94 in May 2021 and is missed greatly. The same is true for Grant, who passed away March 11, 2023.
During Hagan's tenure, the Vikings have celebrated the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement of 13 people who spent all or most of their careers with Minnesota, beginning with Grant in 1994 (Tarkenton in 1986 and Alan Page in 1988 preceded Hagan's time with the team). The list includes receiver Cris Carter and defensive tackle John Randle, who were both early in their legacy-filled careers when Hagan joined the Vikings.
Carter has openly discussed how beneficial coming to Minnesota was for his professional and personal development, and he credited Hagan for playing a role in the success he's enjoyed.
"It's not a coincidence that so many of us who were players during Bob's tenure have gone on to careers in broadcasting and media. The way that department handled things gave us valuable advice and an understanding of how the media works and how to handle them the best way," Carter said. "The time Bob spent with players working on their interviews is really more of a partnership. There are issues that are tense, it takes a lot of time, and he would show us the best way to proceed.
"For me, Bob would help me take some of the bite out of things that I wanted to say when I shouldn't," Carter added. "We would rehearse things, go over tough questions and help me understand where the media is coming from. All that practice reduced the mistakes I could have made from being too emotional and saying things that were too raw. We're all indebted to Bob for helping us along the way."
Randle said: "It was always good to see Bob, who I consider more than a media guy but a friend. We both grew together at the Minnesota Vikings organization. Bob helped many guys adapt to being in the NFL. He's a person I credit with teaching me the importance of media relationships and how to speak with the media."
Hagan and Randle are only a couple months apart in age. Although they come from completely different backgrounds, they became fast friends through common interests, smoothie swaps and an understanding of each other's thoughts on participating in interviews.
"He did not love doing interviews, which I was in charge of, so it would get difficult," Hagan said. "Sometimes it felt like I was rushing the passer, trying to get by him, or he was trying to get by me, and I was the offensive lineman, trying to stop and get in his way. 'No, no, no. We've got to do this next Thursday.'
"And so, this one time, he was upset because I'm like, 'Well, you said you were going to do this interview,' … I just forced him, and I bullied and begged him into doing something he had already committed to," Hagan continued. "He did it, and afterwards, he didn't really look at me, and we just kind of went our own ways. I'm like, 'Oh, he's upset with me.'
"So, we had a game Sunday, and then Tuesday was an off day for the players, and the trainer calls me from down in the training room, and he says, 'Hey, John Randle wants you to come down here.' I go, 'Did he say what he wants?'
" 'No.' I go, 'Ugh, all right, thanks, I'll be down.'
"Hang up, and I'm like, 'This is going to be terrible because he's still upset about this interview that I had him do [even though] everything went fine. I'm just going to go down and take my medicine.' And I go down there to the training room, and he's got two boxes, a brand new pair of nine-and-a-half black shoes and nine-and-a-half brown shoes.
"He noticed my shoes on the road trip we were on before were kind of old and ratty, and at this point, I wasn't married yet, so I didn't have somebody to guide me in that," Hagan said. "It's probably the two nicest pairs of shoes I've gotten in my life still to this day."
These days team travel is highly organized and usually expedited with a remote security screening, bus ride and boarding planes directly. In Hagan's early days, each individual was responsible for getting to the airport and on the plane.
Hagan and Randle further connected through their extreme punctuality.
"Every game we were the first two [at the airport], and if we were the first two, the next person to show up would be like 45 minutes later. We were always super early people," Hagan said. "We'd take turns every time buying each other a smoothie. This was when smoothies were brand new, a new invention and pretty cool. He's just somebody that, speaking of characters, he's one of the all-time characters."
Over the course of time, Hagan was able to hire multiple people, helping create a pipeline for interns to land jobs across the sports landscape and globe. He also was able to bring several back to the Vikings.
This was the case for Tom West in 1998, Jeff Anderson in 2003 and Sam Newton in 2012. Jon Ekstrom was able to follow his internship in 2009 with a full-time position the next year.
"I've never thought of it as work," West said. "And that's because of how Bob operated. Bob is so easy to work with. We got along good. Opposites attract. You couldn't get two more different people. He's a town kid, and I'm a country kid. He doesn't know the working end of a tractor, and I don't know much about dinner parties."
Despite the differences in backgrounds and styles, Hagan and West worked so well together, with strengths of one offsetting weaknesses of the other.
"It was evident from the moment I came in that these guys are totally different but they're like two peas in a pod in terms of they were just tied together, but Tom was more tough love," Anderson said. "He would literally walk up to you and name a player on the roster, and your job was to tell him everything about that player, school, height, weight, the whole deal. He kind of chastised you if you couldn't do it.
"It's pretty hard to get Bob to even raise his voice. I don't know over the 20 years he's done it more than three or four times," Anderson added. "One of those, one or two of those might have been that we didn't have the right snacks on game day or the right pizza. I'm not being funny. He doesn't get worked up about too many things, you know? So, this interesting dynamic for sure between the two guys, but obviously it worked, and it's led to a lot of us being in the league."
Ekstrom knows, "When you're ordering the pizza, there's pressure."
"It better be on time, better be right. Bob is someone that, rarely does he get on you as long as you're doing a good job and taking care of your work," Ekstrom recalled. "One of the times that Bob probably got the most frustrated with me was, I think it was '09 or 2010, and when I was an intern or first-year full-time, so we're doing Wednesday pizzas across the street [from Winter Park for media members].
"If that pizza is coming at 12, he's there at like 12:02, maybe even 11:58," Ekstrom continued. "I had ordered just a mix of pizzas, but I had ordered a hamburger pizza instead of sausage, and Bob was like, 'Who ordered hamburger? Why are we ordering hamburger pizza?'
"Now, I grew up liking that and I still will at times get a beef pizza or beef and other toppings, but that honestly is maybe the most, like flustered or frustrated I've seen Bob, because he was just beside himself, like, 'Who would order this?' There still was sausage. There was just one or two less of the sausage," he added. "Never ordered a beef pizza after that again because the head pizza man did not like it and didn't want it in the order, so that is my biggest pizza memory with Bob: stick with the classics, and apparently a hamburger, a beef pizza doesn't hold a candle to the traditional sausage pizza."
Hagan even worked the food into a question for Newton as he was interviewing for a training camp internship.
"Since it was a camp interview, my very first one, he wasn't super involved in it. … But Bob had one question at the very end, and I'd kind of been tipped off by my friends who'd worked with him at Minnesota State, so it was the favorite pizza spot in Mankato," Newton recalled. "My favorite is Pagliai's, so I knew he was a Jake's guy, but I still said Pagliai's because I wasn't going to switch up on him just to impress him. But I'll remember his response was, 'Good choice.' That's all it was. He was just happy it wasn't Pizza Hut or Domino's, you know. He knew I wasn't one of those guys."
Hagan explained: "[Jake's and Pagliai's are] both in my top five pizzas anywhere, so as long as he said one of those two, he was good. I mean I wasn't going to not hire him if he said one of the other places that I won't name, but that was a bonus."
National writer Peter King made it a point to visit multiple NFL training camps every year.
"Peter King is probably the most famous person to ever work at Sports Illustrated. He would love to come in and love to talk to Wally Boyer, the owner of Jake's Stadium Pizza in Mankato," Hagan said. "He would call for a few days in advance, just how excited he would be to come back into Jake's, and 'What makes it different and special?'
"I mean when I was at training camp, I would eat Jake's five out of seven days a week and the other two, I'd be at my other favorite pizza spot, Pagliai's in downtown Mankato, which is a little thicker and it's harder to have every day," Hagan said. "Jake's was easier to have every day. There were multiple days I would have Jake's twice in a day. I guess that's me."
King was among media members, Vikings Legends and other dignitaries who recorded video messages for Hagan's retirement party at the Minnesota Vikings Museum in early March. King's message included the following:
"You've done a great job for me over the last 30 years in helping me navigate the sometimes-difficult locker room but always cooperative PR staff of the Minnesota Vikings, and I'll always be grateful to you for all the things you've done for me and all the help you've given for me. People don't realize enough how much our jobs depend on the Bob Hagans of the world, and you did a fantastic job for me, so I'm appreciative, but the one thing that I'm most appreciative for, three words, Jake's Stadium Pizza. The fantastic training camp trip every year, I would always map out my trip and make absolutely sure that my time in Mankato, Minnesota, was not rushed because you and I had to go to Jake's Stadium Pizza with many others. That is my favorite stop on my camp trip. It was for 20 years, so Bob, thanks a lot for helping me do my job but thanks mostly for introducing me to Jake's."
Some people are connoisseurs of fine wine, others revere chocolate, but anyone who knows Bob Hagan knows he absolutely loves pizza.
Putting relationships in public relations
Whether it was training camps in Mankato, overfilled Winter Park or eventually the still-sparkling Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, Hagan and the PR staff looked forward to playing the role of host for media members and building relationships.
"You said the magic word: relationships," KSTP's Joe Schmit said. "This business is all about relationships, and Bob is a master at them."
Fred Gaudelli, an Emmy-winning producer, led Sunday Night Football's coverage for years. He and Michele Tafoya always looked forward to Minnesota hosting.
"The one thing you really want to know when you're getting ready for a game is 'Are you going to be able to speak with the coaches and players you want to speak with? Are you going to be able to speak with them in a timely fashion? Are we going to get all the information that teams put out in time to really absorb it and use it in the telecast? Is it going to be a pleasurable experience when you visit that day for practice if they're the home team and then the production meeting at the hotel if they're the road team?' With Bob, when you knew the Vikings were on the schedule that week, you could take a sigh of relief and say, 'OK, this is going to be a great experience this week, we're going to get what we need, it's going to be a real professional environment,' and that isn't always the case every single week.
Tafoya, a California native who moved to Minnesota, said it was "always a great source of pride for me to bring the Sunday Night Football crew" to a Vikings home game because "I knew the treatment we would get from the Vikings would be first-rate."
"And it always was," Tafoya added. "And Bob Hagan was the tip of the spear as far as that went. He just made sure everything was prepared, everything was ready, everything was easy, everything was thorough."
Gaudelli's first year of producing games was in 1990 with ESPN. He later worked with ABC, NBC and Amazon.
"Bob was great about bringing Bud Grant onto John Madden's bus, about bringing Sid Hartman into our production meeting," Gaudelli said. "Some of the Viking Legends, whether it was Alan Page or Carl Eller, he would bring them over to speak with us and introduce them to us. One of my most vivid memories of Bob is we were sitting on Madden's bus; we had just finished watching practice over in Eden Prairie and we were getting ready to leave and who walks on the bus? Bud Grant with Bob right behind him.
"And Bud looks at John, they immediately exchange pleasantries, you could tell there was a great respect there and then the first words out of Bud's mouth are, 'John, can you believe how bad the officiating is?' And this is in 2003 and everybody on the bus just burst out laughing because here are these two coaching icons, two Hall of Famers, and the first thing they can talk about is how bad the officiating is," said Gaudelli, who also worked with Hagan on the moments that chronicled Carter's 1,000th career catch.
"It was a really great emotional moment, and that was really all made possible because Bob really trusted me, and he persuaded Cris and Melanie to wear the mics," Gaudelli said. "That was my final year at ESPN producing their version of Sunday Night Football, but we won the Emmy that year for 'Best Series' and that segment, in my opinion, is why we won it. We set it up, Cris delivered and then we had the great moment with him and his family."
Ekstrom said there may have been a few more pencils chewed by Hagan in weeks leading up to appearances on Sunday Night Football, but he would prioritize relationships.
"That would translate down to our staff, just making sure every single detail was A-plus, and not that we would do any less for a noon game on FOX, but we just understood the importance of these national games, especially early in my career, there wasn't Thursday Night Football, there weren't flex games," Ekstrom said.
There was also one time when Hagan stepped in to help Schmit for a Vikings show that KSTP formerly produced. Normally Hagan would line up Vikings players who would then receive Best Buy gift certificates for appearing on the show. Schmit worked with KSTP's accounting department for the gift certificates and opted to obtain one for Hagan.
"I went up to the accountant and said, 'Bob Hagan needs a gift certificate.' She was a Vikings fan and asked, 'Who's Bob Hagan?'
" 'He's their new deep snapper,' " Schmit casually replied. "So Bob ended up getting a gift certificate to Best Buy, and we still chuckle about that one, because Bob said, 'Whenever I open my refrigerator, I think of you.'
Winter Park was utilitarian and tight on space, which didn't matter as much in the early '90s when so few people were employed by the team. But it also provided unique opportunities for observations as the staff began to expand.
FOX 9's Dawn Mitchell observed Hagan's way of allowing the staff to develop, as well as the efforts he put forth to make authentic connections with media members.
"It was great because he and Tom West would be there, and then a couple of years later, I believe Jeff Anderson was the intern, and you can just see the progression, and it was under Bob's leadership," Mitchell said. "You could see he allowed people to be themselves, Kelly Kleine, 'Be yourself, but learn at the same time,' and then she went off into the scouting and where she is now with Denver, but just to see, 'All right, I'm going to train you, but you don't have to be me.' So from the TV side of things and seeing a PR person do that, I thought it was fantastic."
As Hartman remained committed to a reporter's grindstone throughout his storied career, he needed a little extra care.
"It was always an adventure when he came out here, and he was here, you know, four days a week," Hagan said. "Some days he'd have off, but you knew when he was here because I'd have my hands full. I'd have to take him everywhere and do everything with him, but overall, I enjoyed every minute of it."
Mitchell enjoyed watching Hagan's style with Hartman.
"I was always raised that you respect your elders, so it was that nice thing of knowing, 'OK, that's Sid, and I know that's not normal and it will be reined in if it ever gets unprofessional, but also this is Sid and there is some respect and some deference that needs to be paid to him,' so I loved it," Mitchell said.
West was able to see Hagan's interactions with Hartman since the late 1990s, and Newton learned from the dynamic until Hartman passed away in 2020.
"It was a job where you're having to convince other people to see what you saw in the value that Sid brought, which new people to the Vikings didn't know and didn't understand it, but they figured it out pretty soon, so it was really Sid relations for many, many years," West said.
Newton said the best part was "those two legitimately had love for each other, and that's why it worked so well."
"Bob looked out for Sid so well. I caught the back end of Sid, but he was still fierce, and Bob was always making sure he was getting what he needed, and we were there to help and make sure it was going as well as it should," Newton said. "That was my early years – I'll never forget those moments with Sid and Bob and kind of just – you knew you were sitting in some rarified air when Sid was around, it was always interesting, and it was a great time, too."
Hagan was selected to work 19 Super Bowls, assisting with the NFL's PR efforts for the week-plus leading up to the game and the day after it.
Preparations for Super Bowl XLI led to Hagan's all-time favorite Sid Hartman story, which included a run-in with Prince before the press conference for the halftime show.
NFL Senior Vice President of Football & International Communications Michael Signora oversaw the team and selected Hagan to lead the groups efforts for Super Bowl LIII when former Bills Vice President of Communications Scott Berchtold was unavailable.
Signora traveled to Minnesota in March to attend the retirement party at the Vikings Museum. He said Hagan has been a credit to the Vikings and the NFL for all the years he's known him and proved to be an asset for the league to have in a Super Bowl host city. Signora credited Hagan's "terrific demeanor and calming presence."
As the leader of the PR group at Super Bowl LIII, Hagan lined up Tarkenton, the Georgia native, to speak to the group on the morning of the game. The year before, he had helped encourage Mall of America to be chosen as the site for the Media Center, and it proved to be a wonderful location that provided so many conveniences for media members from across the globe.
A few miles west of Mall of America, Hagan's office at Winter Park was a sight to behold.
Some could say cluttered and be correct, but West described it as "curated."
"Bob had a museum in his office," West said.
It wasn't aligned with everyone's preferences, especially Anderson.
"His office gives me anxiety. People know me, I'm pretty OCD. Everything has got a place and everything needs to be off my desk," Anderson said. "You walk into his office at Winter Park especially, you couldn't even find a place to sit down a lot of the time, so it would give me severe anxiety, but it worked for him. Everybody's got their system. I think he probably knew exactly where everything was in there, but it wouldn't go well for me."
Ryan, who was the Vikings Equipment Manager from 1981 until his retirement in April 2023, appreciated the artifacts and the way Hagan could find them.
"I think he had every CD that any rock band ever produced, and he had all those Vikings memorabilia, little knick-knacks, and photos of everything," Ryan said. "And if you happened to mention a guy, maybe just said something about Hugh McElhenny, he'd pull a photo off his desk. He'd know where it was and he might have to dig a little bit, but he would come up with it and say, 'Oh yeah, this guy.' "
Hagan described it as having pieces of nostalgia from all time.
"Sometimes I'm the person that my wife accuses of, 'You just don't want to get rid of anything. You don't want to get rid of these old things you have or memories,' and so many times, it's fun to look back," Hagan said. "I was packing up my second-to-last day. I was in our, kind of a storage area, and I found this old media guide from my first year, 1991, and it had Dan Endy's name on the front of it. It was his own one, so I took that because I'm going to give it to him."
After moving aside a stack or two of papers, Ekstrom, who is 6-foot-1, would pretzel himself on the low-hanging chair, really more a square ottoman.
"My knees are touching my chin because that's just how low it is, but you've obviously got to move the Star Tribune off the seat," Ekstrom said. "Some papers were in the protective film cases that Bob would put his special papers in. The man loves his printed papers, but I would sit in there, I don't know how many hours I'd spend in that chair, just asking questions about work, about life and just having fun, just talking about anything other than the Minnesota Vikings. There was always a natural connection, just the ability to sit down and not feel like you're talking to your boss. Always had that respect, but it was always very relaxed and casual, and I'd spend hours there with him and Tom, 'Why'd you guys do this? How come you didn't do this? Help me understand this.'
Hagan would quiz Ekstrom — he's "not a music buff by any means" — to see how many tracks on a CD he knew.
"I definitely would fail more than I would succeed, but I loved spending time in that office, and every offseason, he'd always be packing up boxes and moving product," Ekstrom said. "He would say, 'I'm moving product. I think I got rid of about 20 pounds today.' So he'd always be really proud of getting stuff out, but I mean, more stuff is coming right back in, so I think he would get rid of stuff knowing I can get some new stuff in here."
Many mornings Hagan would have the music going and accentuate the notes with the khhh-shhh of opening a soda can.
"My favorite music that Bob would play is the Jurassic Park theme song, and Sam Newton and I would always laugh or always text, 'Oh, he's got the Jurassic Park cranked up today, and I don't think there's even words, but it's just like, I'm sure you guys know the duh-duh-duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh-duh-duh. I don't know why, but Bob would play that, it seemed like all the time," Ekstrom said. "I don't know if it helped him relax or helped him get focused, but he would crank the Jurassic Park theme song, and I just thought that was so random.
"The guy's got 500 CDs in his office and he knows every single band, but if I ever hear the Jurassic Park theme song, I think of one person, and it's absolutely Bob Hagan."
Editor's Note: Hagan estimates he had between 1,500 and 2,000 CDs in his office at that time but kept the soundtrack in his CD player for a month or so.
Concerted effort to connect people
Hagan enjoys bringing people together, whether pulling slices from a square-cut pizza — "there's always room for one more" — or organizing a few people or a larger group to see a concert.
"I average at least 40 shows a year. I think my wife participates in 15 of those," Hagan said. "I love seeing live music, and it's just something I've been passionate about. I've brought a lot of other people along for the ride."
And as their guide.
"Bob is amazing at knowing things about bands. He's a big music afficionado," Shaver said. "I mean, I think he has a lifetime pass at Medina Entertainment Center. I really do. … I've been to a couple of concerts there, and he was there both times."
Mitchell recalled being at the same Chris Hawkey show as Hagan. When Hawkey came out for an encore, Hagan emerged over Mitchell's shoulder and said, "Time for two more," working in a phrase he leaned on to let media members know a press conference was nearing its end.
"It's so great because you always knew it was coming, and it's a nice way of signaling — like I tell people standby, rather than wait a minute," Mitchell said. "I told him that should be the name of his book, and when he does his memoir, it should be Time for Two More."
Hagan became known as "Mr. Setlist Guy" because of his knack for getting the band's lineups of songs before the shows.
"This was pre-internet days, so you couldn't, or pre-cell phones. He'd come prepared," Endy said. "I'd kind of go and just be happy to hear whatever I heard. He would know what was coming up, and yeah, his music fandom far supersedes mine, and I know a lot of songs by lyrics, but he'll actually know them by the name. Whereas sometimes an artist will have a weird name for a song, I'll know the lyrics but will have never known what the title is, and Bob knows them."
Hagan liked being able to plan his evening from pit stops to beverage runs, but he also knows some people don't want to know what is coming. Equipment assistant Terrell Barnes, for instance, wanted no advanced notice of what Bruce Springsteen was going to play earlier this year.
"I don't think I can name a rock band that he hasn't been to their concert and couldn't remember in full detail the list of songs that they sang, and he might even know it by which one was first and which one was last," Ryan said.
Endy has been to innumerable shows with Hagan over the years, including seeing Paul McCartney, who shook Hagan's hand coming off the stage. After seeing the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and knighted legend with his wife, Val, on the first of two nights, Hagan snagged seats that were added the second night and took Endy.
"He was there two nights in a row, and people said, 'Why did you go both nights?' And I say, 'Because he wasn't playing three nights," said Hagan, who had been able to meet McCartney before the Super Bowl XXXIX halftime show press conference.
"Brian McCarthy from the league assigned me to be with him knowing that's my favorite artist of all-time, so it's Brian McCarthy, Scott Berchtold from the Buffalo Bills, my boss at the Super Bowls, myself, Paul McCartney's security guy, just five of us for 15 minutes, and I've got to act like this isn't really cool," Hagan recalled. "I've got to act like I've been there, and we're sitting there talking to him and all this stuff.
"He's left-handed and spinning a football around on his hand and everything, and then Brian McCarthy says, 'I don't know how to tell you this, Sir Paul, but' — we're like two minutes from going out on stage, not me, but Brian's going to bring him out and introduce him — he said, 'Sir Paul, your fly is down.' And this is the year after the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake wardrobe malfunction. He goes, back with us, oh, and he has some cute, little British word for the zipper or whatever, and he pulls it up and goes out and there's 1,500 media, and he just wows the room because he told them what happened backstage [and says to the media], 'We don't want another wardrobe malfunction.' "
Newton recalled how Hagan would prepare for going to shows by "jamming" the whole day ahead of a performance at Rib Fest in Mankato or elsewhere.
"Did his research, has the exact set list, listens to the songs in the order they're playing them that night, and you're excited to go out," Newton said. "We go there, go to the crowd, and I don't see Bob or anybody anywhere, and then all of a sudden, the show starts, and Bob's in the back by the drummer, just jammin'. That kind of set the tone for how he is – Concert Bob."
"Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen said music is a "big common thread" from attending concerts together to just talking about bands and songs during chats.
Anderson credited Hagan with expanding his musical horizons.
"Roger Waters is actually one that kind of stands out," Anderson said. "Not a show I would ever think of going to, Pink Floyd/Roger Waters, but he convinced me to go to it. To this day, it was one of the coolest shows I've ever experienced."
And Hagan's personal friendship with Boston's Tommy DeCarlo — and some scheduling fate — have enabled Hagan to gather groups from the Vikings travel party to see shows on each of the past three road games at the Carolina Panthers.
Hagan has been able to strengthen his friendship with Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times after taking Farmer up on an invite to Wimbledon. Hagan's been able to connect Farmer with tennis legends and see some great volleys on those trips.
Genuine concern for others
The only head coach in Vikings history that Hagan hasn't worked directly with or at least known for years was Norm Van Brocklin, who led Minnesota for its first six seasons.
Hagan capped his first season with Minnesota by helping with Super Bowl XXVI in January 1992. He was then invited to help the NFL at Super Bowl XXXVII, reconnecting with former Vikings QBs Brad Johnson (Buccaneers) and Rich Gannon (Raiders). Hagan worked each game from XXXVII through LIV in Miami, a run of 18 consecutive contests.
"In any organization, you can tell a lot about it by the people who work there and their longevity, their contributions," Grant said. "Bob has meant a lot not only to the Vikings but to the league and everybody that works there."
Through it all, Hagan kept others' wellbeing important, whether it was for a working relationship or friendship.
Allen has used the nickname "Mother Hen" to refer to Hagan for a decade-plus because he has the "care-for-others gene."
"When somebody has something going on in their lives that is troubling them, it will trouble him greatly," Allen said. "The nickname 'Mother Hen' is that he's kind of always overseeing or concerned about a lot of things with a lot of people, making sure that everybody is at peace."
Mitchell went through losing both of her parents and dog in a four-year span but received comforting support from Hagan.
"One thing about Bob that I love is it's not all about the business. He would come over and it was always, 'How are you?' first and then talk about you," Mitchell said. "It wasn't, 'All right I'll be nice and then I'll get to what I really need.' Sometimes, that's all he talked to you about. 'Oh, I hear you're going on a trip here, and when I went it was this,' or, 'How are you doing after this?'
"I even fainted once in the Vikings locker room," Mitchell said. "Kind of during that time I probably wasn't taking care of myself very well in that span. … It's this velvet touch of I'm not prying, but I'm just checking in. I'm being professional, but I'm your friend. It's this unique balance that's really kind of is one of a kind. It really is."
It became clear during interviews for this project that so many are better at their jobs — and better off as humans — because of Hagan's contributions to our lives as colleagues and friends.
View photos from Bob Hagan's retirement party at the Vikings Museum in March 2023.
More than 300 people attended the retirement party in March that was emceed by Allen.
West, as one of the speakers, joked, "So this is what happens when you're nice to people."
After a quick pause, he quipped it was not worth it.
The crowd enjoyed the hilarity, but West closed with a sincere appeal for everyone to try to be someone else's Bob.
"I've known Bob longer than I've known my wife," West said. "When I started as an intern, Bob's wedding was that week, so I've known Bob before he was married, and he's known me before I was married. His kids are getting out of college now. It's wild. We've both grown a lot. Our families have changed a lot. It's wild, and it's been a hell of a run."
Allen said "America's best friend" would be another fitting descriptor for Hagan because the relationships seem to span coast to coast and beyond.
"That description is born not only for what he's done for 32 years, but keeping relationships strong is important to Bob, and therefore, when he was at Iowa State and studied abroad in London, well it's very important for him, despite it being three-plus decades later — to not only stay in touch with those people but find a way to be with them and spend time with them," Allen said. "He's just an elite, common-threaded friend that comes at it from friendship with no agenda. Sometimes those people are hard to find.
"His 'thy not I' approach to life is very metaphorical to the way I believe people should live," Allen added. "And the way I don't believe a lot of people in society live now. And that all is born of having a pure heart – and a heart that is just full of love. And that's Bob Hagan."