It was 60 years ago today that the Minnesota Vikings made their National Football League debut — a stunning 37-13 win over the Bears at Metropolitan Stadium.
Mark Craig of the Star Tribune recently chatted with a hero from that game — Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton — who came off the bench and dazzled in the victory.
Tarkenton didn't start, but he sure finished. Replacing George Shaw with the Vikings leading 3-0 in the first quarter, Tarkenton couldn't have started his record-setting career faster than this: 17-of-23 passing for 250 yards ("which was like 500 yards in 1961," said Tarkenton) and four touchdowns, no interceptions, a rushing touchdown and a 148.6 passer rating that stood as the second-highest in his 13 seasons as a Viking.
"I was a freak of nature," said Tarkenton, the league's first scrambling quarterback. "It was almost sacrilegious for a quarterback to run."
[Bears head coach George] Halas was irate, cussing out his players and later telling reporters that he'd never seen so many things go wrong in one game. When Tarkenton wasn't weaving through Chicago's lumbering defenders, the Vikings defense was dominating with four interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Another Vikings Legend also recalled the thrill of emotions from that day.
"I do remember Halas stomping around and throwing a clipboard down," laughed Jim Marshall, whose streak of 270 consecutive starts as Vikings right defensive end began that day and didn't end until he retired in 1979. "One time, he almost threw down that famous hat of his. Yeah, he was kind of angry that day."
The Vikings would lose their next seven games and cap a 3-11 season with a 52-35 loss to the Bears in Chicago. But, for one perfect storm of an afternoon 60 years ago, the Vikings rejoiced in what remains the best of 61 season openers, and counting.
Craig's full story on the 1961 Vikings can be found here.
Reed family helps donate meals in Ida aftermath
A former Vikings wide receiver is lending a helping hand in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Jake Reed, who played wide receiver in Purple from 1991-99 and again in 2001, recently teamed up with his family and the Vikings to serve approximately 400 meals in the town of Hammond, Louisiana, which is roughly 50 miles north of New Orleans.
JR Reed, Jake's son and a safety for the Rams, also helped out, as did Reed's wife, Vinita. The family also involved the Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum & Veterans Archives in the endeavors.
The Reed family and the Vikings partnered with Feed the Children, which also provided a semi-truck for those in need that contained bottled water, canned and dry foods, hygiene items, cleaning products, laundry detergent and children's books.
"It is only through partnership that we can reach at-risk families and respond to critical emergencies, said Travis Arnold, president and CEO of Feed the Children. "Through our partnership with the Reed family, the Minnesota Vikings and the Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum & Veterans Archives, we can support America's most vulnerable during these difficult times, providing much-needed food and essentials."
Reed ranks fourth in franchise history with 6,433 receiving yards and is sixth with 413 catches.
The Reed family is also raising cash donations to support its disaster relief efforts with Feed the Children. Visit feedthechildren.org/helpusfeedhammond for more information on how you can help.