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Steve Jordan Reaches Rare Air

The shoes were purple, sparkly, nicely broken in and befitting the moment.

The jacket also was purple and custom fit for Steve Jordan, the 2019 inductee to the Vikings Ring of Honor.

Jordan borrowed the shoes from one of his three children, Saints All-Pro/Pro Bowl defensive end Cam Jordan, last week to wear as Steve Jordan's name and number 83 were unveiled on the field-facing wall of the upper concourse at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Steve became the 25th member — and first tight end — in the Vikings Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony last Thursday when Minnesota defeated Washington 19-9.

Despite having a game Sunday, Cam was able to attend and sported a Pro Bowl jersey with his father's No. 83. The son narrated a tribute video that began the ceremony.

Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf and Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf presented Steve with a ring and unveiled Jordan's name after Vikings tackle Tim Irwin introduced the third-leading receiver in franchise history (498 catches).

Irwin overlapped with Steve from 1982-93 and was in his second season when the rookie out of Brown began lining up next to him.

"We didn't quite know what we had," Irwin said. "What we didn't realize is we had the perfect fit for [former Offensive Coordinator/Head Coach] Jerry Burns' offense, a tight end in development who could stretch the field, and he could block a little bit, too.

"I am so proud to be here and to get to introduce him," Irwin added. "It was a pleasure to play beside him. He was old-school in the fact that he didn't lead with his voice or speeches. He led by example and by the way he carried himself on and off the field. I'm so grateful that he's finally been awarded this honor."

Steve ranks sixth on the franchise's list for receiving yards with 6,307 and is tied for eighth with Stefon Diggs with 28 receiving touchdowns. He suited up for 176 regular-season games (14th in team history), and 149 career starts, which ranks fourth among offensive skill players behind Cris Carter (188), Jim Kleinsasser (181) and Bill Brown (180).

View images as Vikings legends gathered at Steve Jordans Ring of Honor Ceremony.

Yet as the Vikings organization thanked Steve for his accomplishments on the field and off it through a successful career in engineering and numerous community service initiatives, Steve thanked others.

"I have to thank God for all that he's done in my life, to bring me from Phoenix, Arizona, to a lot of different places and ultimately end up in Minnesota and have an opportunity to play for the Vikings," he said. "I want to thank the Vikings organization and the Wilf family for acknowledging me."

Steve also thanked his family, including his parents, his wife of 34 years, their three children and seven grandchildren.

"I feel like I'm the richest man in the world because of that," he said.

Steve also thanked coaches and teammates, from his days at South Mountain High School to his time in the Ivy League and eventually with the Vikings.

The previous night, Steve had been presented his Ring of Honor jacket during a dinner/ceremony. He explained as an aside that the purple shoes were borrowed from Cam for the occasion, a sort of full-circle exchange from when Steve helped coach youth football and Cam would borrow clothing from Steve's closet.

Jordan again expressed his gratitude for his journey from Arizona to Rhode Island and then to Minnesota. He recalled 26 out of 28 teams sending a scout to the Brown University campus, which wasn't exactly the starting point during a search for NFL talent.

"Dallas came in with a suitcase of electronics and put plugs on me. [A Vikings scout named] Ralph [Cole] came in, an older guy, a great guy," Steve recalled. "He wanted to see a few drills, a good 40 time.

"Ralph threw me a couple of balls," he added. "The balls were behind me, 'This guy can't throw at all,' but apparently that's what he needed to see because I caught everything."

Steve was sitting by a landline during the seventh round when he spoke to Minnesota Head Coach Bud Grant.

" 'We just drafted you in the seventh round,' " Steve recalled Grant said. "It was a really quick conversation."

He hung up the phone and thought, "Minnesota Vikings, that's awesome. Where's Minnesota?'

He knew it was in the northern region of the United States, but his concept of the locale was formed by the Mary Tyler Moore show.

Over time, it became home to his young family, a great place to play and raise his children.

Steve became connected with Vikings Legends like Carl Eller and Chuck Foreman that preceded him as he set a course that would inspire their children and the direction of younger players who followed Steve.

Eller and Foreman were among attendees at the Purple Jacket Ceremony, and Foreman explained during an open-mic segment the interaction that his son Jay had with Steve before going on to star at the University of Nebraska.

As a ball boy for training camp, Jay told Chuck, "I want to be just like Steve Jordan."

"I'm like, 'How about me?'

"He said, 'You're my father, but he's the greatest guy I've ever met. … He's so nice, he treats me well, and I want to be just like him.'

"Thank you for setting a great example for Jay," Chuck said. "He always speaks well of you."

Former Vikings safety Robert Griffith, who also has an engineering degree, only overlapped with Steve in 1994 after the tight end came out of retirement to help Minnesota after a phone call from the late Dennis Green.

"In pops Steve Jordan, a legend I know from watching on TV, and I had to cover him," Griffith recalled. "One of the things that stood out in the first practice, just as a player watching tight ends and studying and covering him was all of the small nuances that happened. The route tree, how he stemmed me outside to get inside and get a little leverage. All of it was stuff that made me a better player and stuff that I used in those 11 years after that."

Griffith said he was happy to speak on behalf of a player he thinks should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"He's ridiculously humble, so I'm here to put a mouthpiece on how great a man he is off the field and also what he meant to me by putting forth a lighting example," Griffith said. "[He] worked every day and earned everything he got, coming from Brown University, which is a hard thing to do."

Fellow Vikings Legends Chris Doleman, Carl Lee, Leo Lewis, John Swain and Greg Coleman, who emceed the jacket ceremony, shared anecdotes of their time with Jordan.

They told stories of how he quickly impressed others with his fit physique that was reinforced by his refined work ethic and drive to attain perfection.

"A guy who works like that is clearly going to be successful," said Lee, who was drafted in the seventh round a year after Steve. "All the tight ends in the game now are mocking him. This was the first tight end that blocked, ran, caught the ball, did everything. I hate to give him credit because this is hard for me to give all that's due to him."

They also joked with him about his breadth and depth of vocabulary, which involved, as Swain quipped, "very big adjectives" and had laughs about some hijinks in the locker room that were led by Doleman.

Several teammates from the Brown Bears made the trip to Minnesota for the festivities. Two — Kent Leacock and Len DiCostanzo — shared multiple memories of their time together. As did Judge Cody Williams, who has known Steve since they were in the first grade together.

Williams played college basketball at Oklahoma, but the duo stayed close over the years. Their friendship includes being the best man in the other's weddings.

Regardless of the way, the where or the how each person met Steve, the consensus is that he's a man of honor.

"Steve has made it clear, that whether you grew up with him, you went to college with him, you played football with him, whether you hung out with him, he is one of the most loyal individuals who has ever walked the face of the earth," Williams said. "He walks that purple and gold Vikings existence. He has been a representative of this organization that very few have."

Steve said the Vikings organization "is kind of like a fraternity."

"I'm proud to be a part of it and to be inducted into this Ring of Honor with a group of men that I've always looked up to and admired," he said.

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