Anticipation for the Vikings 2014 season remains high, but Wednesday provided an opportunity to reflect on a Vikings great from years past who took one significant step closer to receiving a distinction many feel is well-deserved.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced that former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff was selected as the senior nominee and is an automatic finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2015. Tingelhoff now needs an 80% positive vote at the annual selection meeting, which will be held the day before Super Bowl 49.
Tingelhoff came to the Vikings as a rookie free agent in 1962 and stepped into the starting lineup by the team's second preseason game. He didn't turn over the job until his retirement after the 1978 season, never missing a game over a 17-season span that included an incredible 240 consecutive regular season starts.
"Mick was a catalyst for our team and one of the most respected players on those teams," legendary Vikings Head Coach and Hall of Famer Bud Grant said. "Mick's intangibles were the thing that made him so great. He was a captain the whole time I coached him and guys looked at him as an example of how to do things."
Over Tingelhoff's 17-year career, he started in all four Vikings Super Bowl appearances, snapped to Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, blocked for four running backs who earned 13 trips to the Pro Bowl, was named to seven consecutive All-Pro teams, paved the way for a 100-yard rusher 40 times and played in 19 postseason contests. In Tingelhoff's final 11 seasons, the Vikings did not have a losing record and they won a division title in 10 of those campaigns. The Vikings posted a regular season record of 112-42-2 and won 10+ games seven times in that 11-year span.
The Vikings offense thrived during Tingelhoff's career, ranking in the top 10 of the NFL in rushing offense 10 times and in the top 10 in total offense eight times. Tingelhoff is one of six Vikings that have had their jersey number retired, and he was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2001.