Just finishing up a big Sunday story on new Vikings Hall of Famer Mick Tingelhoff. Thanks to Mick, his exceptional wife Phyllis, son Pat and granddaughter Jazzmyn for all their help. Same goes to all the former players, especially running back Dave Osborn, as well as Bud Grant, long-time head athletic trainer and current team historian Fred Zamberletti and media relations veteran Tom West.
You can’t spend this much time on the career of Mick Tingelhoff and not think of him and Jim Marshall when the word “ironmen” is used to describe football players. Yeah, the gunslinger from Green Bay who drifted west for two years in Purple also comes to mind.
In the history of the NFL, only 13 players have started 200 or more consecutive regular season games. The top three, four of the top six and five of the top 13 once played for the Vikings. Here’s the list:
1. Brett Favre, QB 297
2. Jim Marshall, DE 270
3. Mick Tingelhoff, C 240
4. Bruce Matthews, OL 229
5. Will Shields, G 223
6. Alan Page, DT 215
(tie) Ronde Barber, DB 215
(tie) London Fletcher, LB 215
9. Jim Otto, C 210
10. Derrick Brooks, LB 208
(tie) Peyton Manning, QB 208
12. Gene Upshaw, G 207
13. Randall McDaniel, G 202
Among current Vikings, center John Sullivan is the only player with enough consecutive starts to rank in the top five ironmen at his position. There’s something about Vikings centers and showing up every week. Sullivan’s streak of 57 games stretches back to 2011.
Among current NFL centers, only Houston’s Chris Myers has more consecutive starts (128).
In terms of consecutive games played, three current Vikings rank in the top five at their positions. Everson Griffen (75) leads all Vikings players and is No. 2 at defensive end behind New England’s Rob Ninkovich (86). Backup interior offensive lineman Joe Berger is fourth among centers (61) while Sullivan is fifth.
Considering he played quarterback, it’s tough to argue that Favre’s streak isn’t the most impressive, not only in football but any sport. But the streaks for Marshall and Tingelhoff could have been longer had they played more years with a 16-game schedule. Of course, those extra games also were extra opportunities to be injured.
Marshall opened his 20-year career with one year (1960) in the 12-game schedule. He played 16 years in a 14-game schedule and the final two in a 16-game schedule.
Tingelhoff (1961-78) played all but the last of his 17 seasons in a 14-game schedule.
I asked him why he stopped.
“I had had enough,” he said. “I was too old.”
Phyllis said Mick’s close relationship with Grant was a primary reason he walked away at 38.
“He didn’t want to put Bud in position to have to say to him, ‘You’re done,’” Phyllis said. “He wanted to go out on his own terms. And Fran [Tarkenton] was retiring that year, too. That was really a good way for Mick to go out. On his own terms.”
On most mornings, we walk you through what’s going on with the Vikings.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
— Matt Kalil is pain free — for now at least. That’s a good thing, because this could be a make-or-break season for the 26-year-old left tackle.
— Speaking of offensive tackles, Babs, the Polish sensation, is working hard, but he admits that “there’s a long way for me to go” to stick around.
— The Vikings are taking the long view with Cordarrelle Patterson, forcing him to become a real receiver. Randball thinks that’s the right approach.
— Shameless plug alert: Check out the second episode of our new Access Vikings podcast. We talk early camp storylines, position battles and more.
AROUND THE NFC NORTH
— After hip surgery, Packers wideout Jordy Nelson said he feels better than he did a last season. That’s scary considering he had 98 catches and 1,519 yards in 2014. And scored 13 touchdowns. And made the Pro Bowl…
— Bears tight end Martellus Bennett skipped the voluntary portion of the offseason. But he insists he isn’t worried about getting a new deal.
— Lions wide receiver Golden Tate waded into Deflategate, saying that if Patriots QB Tom Brady cheated, he deserves to be suspended.
TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE
After a day off for the players, the Vikings are back on the field this morning at Blakeslee Stadium in Mankato. The walkthrough starts at 10:30 a.m. and the afternoon practice runs from 2:45 to 5 p.m. Players will be in pads.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
When the Vikings drafted Danielle Hunter in the third round, G.M. Rick Spielman remarked that Hunter, who had just 1.5 sacks in his junior season at LSU, was a raw prospect that probably wouldn’t contribute right away. After all, Hunter, at age 20, is the youngest player on the team. But hold that thought. The rookie defensive end has caught the eyes of the coaching staff early in training camp. “He is a lot less raw then we thought,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “He has really been impressive honestly.” Hunter has even gotten reps with the first-team defense, so maybe he can help in 2015.
Glen Perkins was a perfect 28-for-28 in save opportunities before the All-Star break. That’s good!
Since then, in four games, he’s blown two saves and lost another. That’s really bad!
It’s the kind of stretch that’s not altogether uncommon for a relief pitcher, but the timing of it has been awful. Fortunately, baseball fans, particularly those on Twitter, are usually of the rational bent and use the social media platform to express words of encouragement when players are in times of struggle.
Wait, that’s not true at all. Perkins has been getting lit up on Twitter. (This is a tame example). And his wife, Alisha, as part of a larger post about teaching their kids that it’s OK not to be perfect and that we all fall down, writes about it here:
Listen, I get that you want to hold Glen to a higher standard because he gets paid a lot and you are used to him being darn near perfect but that does not give you the right to cyber bully him and our family when things don’t go according to plan.
Do you think he doesn’t feel bad already?
Do you think he wanted to fail?
You are delusional if you think he doesn’t feel worst than anyone when he doesn’t succeed.
It is easy to hide behind a screen and spew venom at people you will never meet and who are doing things you could only dream of but it does not make it ok. The “cyber bullying” fad in America needs to stop; it is destructive, offensive, unnecessary, and just pain cowardly. Let’s have a little grace for one another and for ourselves.
I tend to agree. While criticism comes with the territory of being a professional athlete (just as praise often does), personal attacks do not.