Mick Tingelhoff Minnesota Vikings
"We don’t get very high or very low from week to week. We try to stay even keel. When we get behind, we don’t get very excited. We go to work and do the job.”
was originally signed by the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent out of the University of Nebraska in 1962. Tingelhoff earned a starting nod at center as a rookie and never relinquished the role for the remainder of his stellar 17-season career.
At 6’2”, 237 pounds, he was known for his durability, toughness, and perseverance. He never missed a game and started all 240 regular season games of his career that ended with his retirement after the 1978 season. He also played in 19 playoff games during his NFL career.
Tingelhoff anchored an offensive line that helped the Vikings claim 10 divisional titles in an 11- season span from 1968 to 1978. Minnesota recorded 10 or more wins during the time of 14-game seasons seven times in an eight-year span.
A team leader, he was adept on pass protection for his scrambling quarterback Fran Tarkenton who became the NFL’s all-time leading passer. During two different stints in Minnesota, the Hall of Fame quarterback eclipsed the 2,500-yard passing mark nine times. Tarkenton became the Vikings’ first 3,000-yard passer when he aired it out for a franchise record 3,468 yards in Tingelhoff’s final season. A great run blocker, Tingelhoff also paved the way for Chuck Foreman who strung together three straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons (1975-77).
Tingelhoff guided the Vikings to victories in four of the five NFL/NFC championships in which the team played and helped the club reach four Super Bowls (IV, VIII, IX, and XI).
As a center, he had to take on opponents’ middle linebackers and he played in an era and a division that included three notable Hall of Famers in Joe Schmidt of the Detroit Lions, Ray Nitschke of the Green Bay Packers, and the Chicago Bears’ Dick Butkus.
Tingelhoff received national accolades by his third season in 1964 that marked the first of seven consecutive seasons in which he was named first-team All-NFL. In 1969, he was named to the 1,000-yard Club as the NFL’s top blocker. He was also elected to the Pro Bowl six straight times from 1965 to 1970. Tingelhoff was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2001.