EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings on Wednesday announced that Steve Jordan will be inducted to the Vikings Ring of Honor this year.
Jordan was surprised with the news during a team meeting on Wednesday morning at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center where Head Coach Mike Zimmer invited Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren and Jordan to speak to the team, and Warren surprised Jordan with the news.
Warren explained that he had admired Jordan since their days of growing up in the same church in Phoenix, Arizona. Jordan was three years ahead of Warren and was a senior at Brown when Warren was a freshman at Pennsylvania.
"I looked up to him," Warren said, explaining to players he made it a point to meet up with Jordan after a Brown-Pennsylvania football game three decades ago.
"He has been an iconic player here who had an unbelievable career … but bigger than that, he has an Ivy League degree, graduated in four years," Warren said. "He is a phenomenal human being. People didn't give him a chance. Today is a special day, and I love days like this, so on behalf of the Wilf family, the Minnesota Vikings and all of our fans around the world, I just want to invite Steve Jordan to the Ring of Honor, and you all are the first to know."
View photos of former Vikings TE Steve Jordan who will be inducted to the Vikings Ring of Honor this year.
Current players and coaches applauded as Jordan paused for a moment to collect his thoughts after a rare lost-for-words moment.
Jordan explained his approach to make the team as a rookie back in 1982. It was a disciplined, focused process that helped him positively impact the Vikings and the NFL as a player for 13 seasons and as an alum.
"My father was a teacher in high school and college and a coach earlier in his career," Jordan said. "I looked up to my dad. One of the things he told me was to be prepared, and being prepared doesn't mean show up the day before the test."
Jordan didn't have the benefit of the combine or a college all-star game to showcase his talents. He did have the work ethic to come into camp in great physical shape and confidence in his ability to run and catch passes.
Then came Jordan's welcome-to-the-NFL moment.
"The first time I had to line up against Matt Blair, an All-Pro outside linebacker, blocking wasn't my forte," Jordan said. "I was more of a receiving tight end coming out of college. I went to do a 1-on-1 drill, I was in a 3-point stance, and the next thing I know, I was looking up at the sky. Matt Blair ran right through me like a revolving door."
Jordan was prepared enough to know that Bud Grant didn't like mental errors and rarely retained rookies.
"I wanted to make sure that I didn't get myself pushed out of training camp," Jordan said. "There's certain things you can control and certain things you cannot control. You can't control the other person, like a Matt Blair, who was 6-foot-5 and 250. I couldn't control his level of talent. One of the easiest ways to get bounced out of camp was by mental errors. I could control mental errors. There were some guys that would go out, but I went back in my room, studying and making sure I did not make the mental errors that were going to get me bounced out of camp. That same mentality applies during the season because it only takes one game to miss an opportunity that is going to cost you."
Recently retired Vikings Legend Scott Studwell, a teammate of Jordan's from 1982-90 and fellow Ring of Honor member, came back into the office for the announcement.
Studwell, current tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith, Jr., Warren, Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman were among those congratulating Jordan after he spoke to the team.
Jordan's name is scheduled to join 24 other Vikings Legends whose names encircle the upper level of U.S. Bank Stadium on Oct. 24 when Minnesota hosts Washington on Thursday Night Football.
Fittingly, Jordan's single-game high for receiving yardage (179 on six receptions) occurred at Washington on Nov. 2, 1986, when Tommy Kramer set a franchise record of 490 yards through the air. Jordan earned his first of six consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl after that season.
Originally a seventh-round pick (179th overall) out of Brown University in 1982, Jordan played all 13 of his NFL seasons in Purple before launching his successful career in engineering.
Jordan ranks third in team history with 498 career receptions, a total that trails only Hall of Fame receivers Cris Carter (1,004) and Randy Moss (587) in franchise history. Carter (2003) and Moss (2017) are also in the Vikings Ring of Honor.
"Steve Jordan's impact on the Vikings has carried on past his career on the field," Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf said. "As great a player as Steve was, he's just as great an ambassador for the Vikings and the game of football. He is a positive role model to young players about the value of education and using your platform as an NFL star for good."
Jordan ranks sixth in team history with 6,307 receiving yards and eighth with 28 scores through the air.
His 176 regular-season games played rank 14th in team history, and his 149 career starts rank fourth among offensive skill players behind Carter (188), Jim Kleinsasser (181) and Bill Brown (180).
Jordan played for four of the Vikings nine head coaches (Grant, Les Steckel, Jerry Burns and Dennis Green). Grant (1998), Burns (2005) and Green (2018) are also in the Vikings Ring of Honor.
"I have a lot of love for this team, this organization," Jordan told Vikings.com after the session. "It was a game-changer for me and my family to come here and be able to play and meet the people I've met, the teammates, the coaches, the administration.
"All of that is kind of rushing back, and to have an opportunity to be in the Ring of Honor is really special with the history and the legacy of the Vikings," Jordan added. "Excellence comes to mind, and just over the years, how things have gone. You're going to have some ups and downs, but just a lot of fond memories. I've got a lot going on in my mind right now. This is kind of crazy but all good."
Jordan's single-season bests were 68 receptions in 1985, 859 receiving yards and six touchdowns in 1986. He averaged 14.0 or more yards per reception in seven separate seasons and finished with a career average of 12.7 yards per reception.
From 1986-91, Jordan led all tight ends in the NFL with 287 receptions and 3,885 receiving yards. He was third among tight ends with 21 touchdowns in that span.
At the time of his retirement as a player, Jordan trailed only Ozzie Newsome, Jr., and Kellen Winslow, Sr., in receptions by a tight end.
He can be proud of the accomplishments on the field, his positive impact off it and the fact that he's an example for future generations of players.
"I look back, and it's really good that something like this can happen, someone like me, who comes out of a small school can come to the Vikings and have a successful career, not just on the field but off the field," Jordan said. "I really tried to make an impact while I was here. I thank God for the people that he put in my life. We had some great coaches that were here. We had some great support people, our staff and training staff. All of that comes into play.
Jordan mentioned the influence of longtime team chaplain Tom Lamphere.
"To be able to walk away from my career, go into my next career but look back and say, 'There was some good work that was done,' and leave a legacy so that other people can do the same," Jordan said. "Cris Carter came in, well, we overlapped quite a bit, but he came in and did some things in the community, and we had others. The names go on and on. Randall McDaniel, all of these guys who have done some really cool things in the community, and talking to Kyle Rudolph now, he's taken over and doing a lot of that now.
"I just love that I was able to kind of step into that continuum, do my part and see it grow," Jordan added. "It's been pretty awesome to see that."
In Jordan's final nine seasons, he helped the Vikings win the NFC Central three times, reach the postseason six times and advance to the 1987 NFC Championship Game with upset wins over New Orleans and San Francisco.
Jordan reminisced about that magical run, explained what he learned from his coaches at Brown and with the Vikings and described how his engineering degree came in handy early in his rookie season during a Skol Stories episode with Mike Wobschall last fall.
Jordan was able to pass along his love for football within his family. His son, Cam, has spent his entire career with the Saints since his selection in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Cam grew up learning from several of his father's Vikings teammates.
"Like Darrin Nelson, 'Uncle Darrin'; 'Uncle Joey Browner,' 'Uncle Dole' – Chris Doleman – those kinds of guys that he got a chance to hang out with, and their kids," Steve previously reminisced with Vikings.com. "He got to see a lot of these guys, and it wasn't so distant to him in terms of, 'Wow, I don't know if I could ever do that,' because he got to see them and their kids on a regular basis."
Jordan was on-hand to watch Minnesota's victory over New Orleans via the Minneapolis Miracle in the first playoff game ever at U.S. Bank Stadium, and now his name will overlook the action at the venue going forward.