Viking great Wally Hilgenberg, a constant on a Minnesota defense that carried the franchise to their four Super Bowl appearances, passed away today from complications related to Lou Gehrig's Disease. He passed away just four days after his 66th birthday.
Hilgenberg was a graduate of the University of Iowa, and was initially drafted in the fourth round of the 1964 draft by the Detroit Lions. Following the 1967 season, the Lions traded him to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the Steelers cut him before he ever played a game for the franchise. The Vikings picked Hilgenberg up off the waiver wire, and his Vikings career lasted until 1979, when he announced his retirement.
Hilgenberg started 117 of the 156 games he played for the Minnesota Vikings, and led the team in tackles in 1971 with 110, and still holds the Viking record for most combined tackles in a game with 13, a record he shares with Scott Studwell. He's also one of the few Viking players to have played in all four of the Vikings' Super Bowl appearances.
Hilgenberg is survived by his wife, Mary, their four children, and fourteen grandchildren. We here at the Daily Norseman send our prayers and best wishes out to the Hilgenberg family in their time of need.
Unfortunately, Mr. Hilgenberg played for the Vikings a bit before my time of being a fan of the team, so I can't relate any stories about personally having seen him play or anything like that. If any of you ever met the man or have any Viking stories about him, feel free to share them with everybody here.