There is an argument that can be legitimately made that, had the Vikings of 1970s vintage won just one of the four Super Bowl games in which they played during that decade, there not only would be more Vikings in the Hall of Fame, but those who have made it wouldn’t have had to wait as long as they did.
One of the acting travesties of the Hall of Fame is that Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff doesn’t have his bust in Canton yet. The operative word in the that sentence was “yet,” but yet isn’t coming this year.
Tingelhoff, who has been eligible for the Hall of Fame for 30 years, hasn’t been elected yet, despite being on a dominant team, never missing one of the 349 games played during his 17-year career – 240 regular season, 90 preseason and 19 postseason games. He has been snubbed from the Hall of Fame. During his career, he was viewed as a dominant player at his position, which is why players are elected to the Hall of Fame. Gale Sayers didn’t put up the kind of numbers that are HOF worthy, but injuries derailed his career. Yet, he was so outstanding on non-outstanding teams that the Hall of Fame voters bypassed the standard career numbers achievement level to vote him in.
By any measure, Tingelhoff deserves Hall of Fame inclusion. He played for one NFL champion – the history books don’t lie, the Vikings won one NFL title. However, the lack of a Super Bowl ring is the only obstacle preventing him from being inducted to the Hall of Fame.
Bud Grant had to wait. Ron Yary did. Carl Eller did. Paul Krause did while retiring as the all-time leader in interceptions. If anyone is going to break his record, he is in his early 20s at the oldest. Since Krause retired, nobody has come within 10 of his record and the only current NFL players that have a remote shot are Ed Reed and Charles Woodson. Reed needs 20 picks to tie the record and Woodson needs 26. Yet, Krause had to wait.
Tingelhoff’s wait will last at least one more year. On Wednesday, the Hall of Fame’s Seniors Committee bypassed Tingelhoff again in its nomination for the Hall of Fame Class of 2014.
Under HOF rules, the nine-member Seniors Committee can nominate two candidates for induction into the Hall. Tingelhoff has been gaining momentum in recent years, but the call hasn’t come yet and, once again, didn’t come this year.
Instead, the committee nominated punter Ray Guy and defensive end Claude Humphrey. There is growing momentum for Guy, who proved after being the only pure punter drafted in the first round of the NFL’s modern era, to become the first punter ever in the Hall of Fame. Awards are named after him because of his dominance. It’s a situation of “if not him, then who?” with Hall of Fame voters.
Humphrey was a Seniors Committee nominee in 2009, but didn’t get the required 80 percent of the vote for induction. It is assumed that the second time around will be the charm for him.
What makes the Tingelhoff exclusion from the Hall of Fame so galling is that he wasn’t expected to be dominant. Both Humphrey and Guy were first-round draft picks – Humphrey taken No. 3 overall in 1968 and Guy taken No. 23 in 1973. Tingelhoff went undrafted in 1962 – at a time when the NFL draft went 20 rounds.
Once again, Tingelhoff hasn’t received the call he has deserved for longer than his supporters are willing to accept. Then again, how can a Hall of Fame that recognizes lifetime achievement not have Jim Marshall in? The only two players in history to play more consecutive games were Brett Favre and a punter. Marshall didn’t miss a game. Neither did Tingelhoff.
One Super Bowl title and both of them would be in and those who had to wait wouldn’t have had to wait so long. It’s sad, but it’s how the Hall of Fame rolls. For Tingelhoff, the wait continues and, as his wait now hits its 30th year, it seems all the more galling that it hasn’t happened yet.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.