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REFLECTIONS

Vikings Super Bowl thoughts become alive again
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joe Kapp (11) tries to escape a defender in Super Bowl IV. Submitted photo
Vikings Super Bowl thoughts become alive again
By
Howard Lestrud, Contributing Writer

With purple thoughts dancing in our heads, we are once again thinking of a Minnesota Vikings trip to the Super Bowl.

If it happens, it would be the fourth trip to the Super Bowl for the Vikings. The Vikings have failed however, to bring home the Super Bowl trophy named in honor of former Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.

I once interviewed Lombardi’s son and was given the pleasure of trying on his dad’s Super Bowl ring.

This journalist has been fortunate to be a loyal fan and also to be a reporter covering the Vikings, especially in the late 60s.

Member of the media

Because I was a member of the media, I had the great opportunity to cover Vikings victories over the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns. In the game with Cleveland, it was so cold (5 above) that the film would snap as I tried to load it into the camera.

I made several trips to Mankato to visit the Vikings training camp.

On photo day, I interviewed the likes of Hall of Fame Coach Bud Grant, and Hall of Fame players Carl Eller, Mick Tingelhoff, and Fran Tarkenton. My son Troy, then 5 years old, got hoisted on Carl Eller’s shoulder pads. Coach Grant also held Troy for a photo op.

High-spirited Joe Kapp became the Vikings quarterback, coming to Minnesota from the Canadian Football League, and led the Vikings to their first Super Bowl trip. I once saw him throw six touchdown passes against Baltimore, with Vice President Spiro Agnew in attendance.

Kapp also put me in my place.

Three players were vying for the quarterback No. 1 job. I thought it would be kind of cool to have the three QB candidates–Kapp, Bob Berry, and Gary Couzzo–reaching for the ball. Kapp didn’t like the idea.

What podunk newspaper are you with?” Kapp asked.

I quickly told them to stand, each holding their helmet. Kapp was known as a hard-nosed competitor.

Most rewarding experience

One of most satisfying moments of following the Vikings was to be asked by the St. Paul Pioneer Press to attend a Vikings practice. I asked writer Ralph Reeve if I could bring a friend.

My friend, Steve Jensen, 16, was an avid Vikings fan and recently had lost both hands in a farm machinery accident.

Vikings public relations officials arranged for Steve to not only watch practice but to meet all the players afterward including Ed White, Fran Tarkenton, Chuck Foreman, Mick Tingehoff, Ahmad Rashad, Stu Voigt, etc.

The players autographed a football and gave it to Jensen. He still has it today. Reeve wrote a beautiful story on Steve and his visit to Vikings practice.

As the years passed, the rosters of the Vikings changed drastically. I’m still an avid Vikings fan and hope to be forever.

Now, I move to the front of the Vikings band wagon. Skol Vikings!

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