Mick Tingelhoff, the overlooked and undrafted center who went on to play 17 seasons without missing a game for the Vikings, has moved one step closer to reaching the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A five-time first-team All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler from 1962 to 1978, Tingelhoff was chosen this afternoon as the Hall of Fame Senior Committee’s lone nominee for enshrinement vote by the full committee in 2015.
“It’s unbelievable,” Tingelhoff said by phone from South Dakota, where he’s vacationing with his family. “I’m honored. But I’ll be a lot happier if they put me in next Februrary.”
Although the Senior Committee carries tremendous weight, Tingelhoff still must receive at least 80 percent of the vote from the full board of selectors. They will meet and vote on the Saturday before Super Bowl 49 in February.
Vikings Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, a longtime roommate and friend of Tingelhoff’s, grabbed the phone from his secretary when told the news.
“It’s about [darn] time I got a call like this on Mick Tingelhoff,” he said. “He played 17 years. He came to us as an undrafted free agent from Nebraska. I remember his first day. I was going into my second year.
“He started out as a middle linebacker. We needed a center. He moved over there and became as great a center that’s ever played.”
Veteran linebacker Chad Greenway, who is dealing with a wrist injury that head coach Mike Zimmer downplayed this morning, was dressed for practice today. But after participating in some of the individual drills at the start of the practice, Greenway spent the rest of the afternoon on the sideline.
Afterward, Greenway, who had a black brace on his right wrist, said he expects to practice tomorrow.
“It’s feeling pretty good and hopefully we’ll be able to push forward,” Greenway said.
Still, the injury is worth monitoring because it is the same wrist that Greenway fractured a season ago, when he played all 16 games despite the injury. Greenway did not have surgery on it after the season, instead going the rest-and-rehab route.
Greenway playfully joked that Zimmer was overreacting a little bit by holding him out today.
“I think he just thinks I’m getting old maybe,” Greenway said. “Obviously, when I had the issue with it last year it makes it a little more [noteworthy], wanting to take care of it. I know what it was like to go through the entire season with it last year and I don’t want to go through that again. I think we did a good job of figuring it all out and getting it taken care of.”
And no, if you’re wondering, Greenway did not tweak his wrist pouring ice water on Mark Craig yesterday. He laughed when I asked him if that’s what did it.
With Greenway and rookie Brandon Watts, who has a lower leg injury, watching from the sideline, second-year player Michael Mauti got an opportunity as the weak-side linebacker for the first-team defense. Hopefully for his sake, Mauti, who is firmly on the roster bubble, made a good impression.
Beyond Greenway, also missing from today’s practice were running back Adrian Peterson (personal matter), linebacker Gerald Hodges (knee), nose tackle Linval Joseph (calf), cornerback Jabari Price (arm/shoulder), and tight end Chase Ford (foot). Rookie wide receiver Kain Colter briefly left practice with one of the athletic trainers, but returned with his right hand taped up.
Making his practice debut was new linebacker Justin Jackson. The rookie was wearing No. 45.
Robert Blanton, Chris Crocker and Kurt Coleman split the first-team reps next to Harrison Smith.
Christian Ponder had a busy practice running the scout team as the Vikings prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs. Ponder saw a lot of action with some of the other third-stringers against the starters and second-string defense. Smith didn’t make it easy for Ponder, picking off one of his deep throws over the middle and getting his hands on a couple other passes that could have been picked off.