Eagan, Minn. (September 2, 2018) – The Minnesota Vikings released the following statements today following the passing of longtime athletic trainer and team historian Fred Zamberletti:
The Minnesota Vikings family is devastated by the loss of our dear friend Fred Zamberletti. Fred was a staple of the franchise since its founding, helping build the Vikings from an expansion club in 1961 to a team ingrained in the fabric of life for Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Fred worked tirelessly, at one point building a streak of 1,049 consecutive Vikings games attended, and was loved by everyone throughout the organization – players, coaches, and staff. He cared deeply about the health of his players as well as their lives off the field. With his incredible stories and his passion for the team, he was respected by us as owners. Each of us inside the Vikings has our own personal memories we shared with Fred and those will never be forgotten. Our thoughts are with the entire Zamberletti family today. – Vikings Owners Zygi and Mark Wilf
Fred Zamberletti was the epitome of a Minnesota Vikings icon. He was more to players than just an athletic trainer; he was a friend, a mentor and a father figure who earned respect and admiration from everyone he encountered. If there was a category in the Hall of Fame for athletic trainers, Fred would be at the top of the list for inductees. We will miss him dearly. – General Manager Rick Spielman
When I reflect upon the legacy of Fred Zamberletti, I think of a man who was loyal, intelligent, hard-working, tough, and dedicated. Fred was a true Renaissance man. He was incredibly knowledgeable about wide-ranging subjects and could capture your attention with his storytelling ability. We rarely discussed football and primarily focused on family, faith, music and life. Fred had a powerful and unique ability to relate to everyone and was a man with a huge heart who deeply loved God and spent every day striving to make the world a better place. My prayers are with the Zamberletti family. – Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren
Zamberletti was the Vikings head athletic trainer from 1961-1998, coordinator of medical services from 1999-2001 and senior consultant and team historian from 2002-2018. He had a streak of 1,049 consecutive games attended, dating to the start of the franchise in 1961 and extending into the 2011 season before missing his first game. On December 20, 1998, the Vikings celebrated Fred Zamberletti Day, when more than 100 Vikings alumni turned out to celebrate Zamberletti's induction into the Vikings Ring of Honor prior to the Vikings-Jacksonville Jaguars game.
Born on May 28, 1932, Zamberletti grew up in Melcher, Iowa. A successful entrepreneur and a man of deep faith, Zamberletti was a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Infantry. Following his graduation from the University of Iowa, he served as chief physical therapist at Hibbing General Hospital in 1959 and head athletic trainer at the University of Toledo in 1960 before joining the Vikings at the team's inception at 1961. To the media Zamberletti was known as "Trainer for Life." Former Head Coach Bud Grant acknowledged him as the "Cornerstone of the Vikings," while former General Manager Mike Lynn referred to Zamberletti as "Mr. Viking." Players simply called him "The Man."
In addition to numerous professional awards, Zamberletti was inducted into the Minnesota Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame and was chosen Professional Athletic Trainer of the Year in 1986 by the Drackett Company of Cincinnati. He and the Vikings staff earned the 1996 NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year award. In 1999 he earned the Cain Fain Award at the NFL Physicians Sports Sciences Symposium and was an Honorary Fellow of the Minneapolis Sports Medicine Center. Recognized by the governor as an Honorary Ambassador of the State of Minnesota, Zamberletti also received the Minneapolis Honorary Citizen Award. In 2011, Zamberletti was recognized by his alma mater with the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Zamberletti's Caring Bridge page can be found here.