MINNEAPOLIS — Cheers rang through the air Sunday as Vikings legend Mick Tingelhoff received his Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence during a ceremony at halftime of Minnesota's win against San Diego.
Tingelhoff, who was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, was joined on the field by his wife, Phyllis, fellow Hall of Famers Bud Grant, Carl Eller, Alan Page, Randall McDaniel, Chris Doleman and Fran Tarkenton, and more than 65 Vikings alumni who participated in a weekend Homecoming celebration.
Tarkenton, the fiery quarterback who presented his best friend for enshrinement this summer, delivered a spirited speech in honor of the center who never missed a start in 17 seasons. Tingelhoff is one of 11 players who participated in all four of the Vikings appearances in the Super Bowl.
"You want to know why we have a great history of playing here, a great heritage, playing in four of the first 11 Super Bowls? It's because every one of these Hall of Famers are linemen," Tarkenton said. "That's why we went — not because of the running backs or quarterbacks or the ends. It was because of these big studs right here who knew how to play football and knock people down."
On cue, the Vikings offensive and defensive lines dominated the third quarter, allowing Minnesota to seize momentum.
Hall of Fame President and Executive Director David Baker told the crowd it was a great privilege to present Tingelhoff with the ring and Mrs. Tingelhoff with a gold pendant the night before.
Tingelhoff received his gold jacket two nights before his bronze bust was unveiled for placement into the Hall of Fame, but Baker told Vikings.com there's something extra special about the ring ceremony.
"There's three icons — there's the bust that will last 40,000 years in Canton, Ohio, there's the gold jacket that is now a 90-minute TV show on NFL Network, but I think the best one is the ring that's designed by Kay Jewelers," Baker said. "We give this away in their stadium in front of their fans, and it's not just giving the ring to them. It's letting them hear the fans cheer for them one more time. It's very special."
Baker said Tingelhoff's toughness and commitment through the years were to be commended and said he enjoyed seeing so many past players and fans honor Tingelhoff.
"One of the things I love about the Hall of Fame is it brings people together, and to see a guy like Fran Tarkenton come back and speak on behalf of Mick and understand how much it meant to him (is great)," Baker said. "We were with so many of the Vikings alumni and gave Phyllis Tingelhoff her pendant (Saturday). It's a family, a community. That's what the game does for us. If you're playing little peewee football, we all come together to watch our kids. When we're honoring our legends, all those other guys in the legends community come together to honor them."
Tarkenton closed by telling the crowd that Tingelhoff was "a great teammate, a great center, but gave us the culture that this team has today. He was just relentless, he was quiet and his teammates were first."
Head Coach Mike Zimmer said those tenets apply to what he wants to instill in the Vikings of today and tomorrow.
"One of the things that we're trying to do – I think like Fran Tarkenton said about Mick Tingelhoff, he always put the team first – that's the mindset that I'm trying to get this football team to develop," Zimmer said to open his Monday press conference.