There aren't many people who have been around the Vikings organization since its founding in 1961. The handful who have, however, include original athletic trainer Fred Zamberletti and longtime iconic sports columnist Sid Hartman.
Zamberletti passed away Sunday at the age of 86. Soon after, Hartman reflected on the impact Zamberletti had on the team through the decades. Hartman, 98, wrote in the Star Tribune that the former trainer was "trusted and confided in explicitly by [his] athletes."
Hartman knew Zamberletti since the trainer's time at the University of Iowa and called him "one in a million." He spoke to Hall of Fame Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton, who said that Zamberletti was the first person he met when he arrived for training camp in 1961.
"He became one of my best friends for life. He was as important as anybody that has ever been in the Vikings organization," Tarkenton told Hartman. "He treated everybody, whether you were the star of the team or the youngest rookie on the team, you were important to him. He never raised his voice. He never said a negative thing about anybody. He just was as important as any Viking in the history of this proud franchise."
According to Tarkenton, there was never a day where Zamberletti wasn't in the locker room and training room.
"If you needed to get treatment at 12 o'clock at night, he was in there at 12 o'clock at night," Tarkenton told Hartman. "He was as loyal as a person could ever be to all of us players, all the coaches, and he is just iconic."
Hartman wrote that Tarkenton was able to call Zamberletti on Saturday to say goodbye.
"That's probably the most meaningful five minutes of my life, talking to Fred yesterday," Tarkenton said. "Every time I think about it, I cry a little bit, because we lost a giant of a man. I want all young Vikings fans to look up Fred Zamberletti and never forget him. He was the heart and soul and the foundation of what we call the Vikings."
3 Vikings in Fabiano's top 25 fantasy players
As the 2018 NFL season prepares to kick off, fans across the country are setting their fantasy football rosters.
While the true significance lies in players' "real-life" performances, fantasy football leagues allow fans to get in on the fun of the competition. NFL.com fantasy analyst Michael Fabiano recently predicted the 200 best fantasy players for the 2018 season, based on a PPR (full point) scoring system, and three Vikings were in the top 25.
Dalvin Cook was the highest-ranked Viking, coming in at No. 16. Cook got off to a hot start in 2017 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. The running back returned to limited action against the Seahawks in Preseason 3.
Minnesota's starting receiver duo, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, came in at Nos. 24 and 25, respectively. The Vikings were the only team with three players in the top 25.
Other Vikings included in the top 200 were tight end Kyle Rudolph (90), quarterback Kirk Cousins (94), the Vikings defense (142), which was the third defense listed, and Latavius Murray (153).
HOF DT John Randle plays Wiffle Ball for charity
Vikings Legend John Randle contributed enough on the field to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Off of the field, however, the Hall of Famer has been just as active. Most recently, Randle participated in Wiffle Wars 2, a celebrity Wiffle Ball tournament played at CHS Field, the home of the St. Paul Saints. Wiffle Wars 2 benefited the Hendrickson Foundation, which works to provide hockey opportunities to players with physical or mental disabilities.
Randle played on a team with former soccer player Jamie Watson, KFAN contributor Carly Zucker, Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, former Twins third baseman Corey Koskie and Wild winger J.T. Brown.