The word is just coming across the wire that a pretty significant part of Minnesota Vikings' history has passed away.
Tommy Mason, who played for the Vikings from 1961 to 1966, rushed for 3,252 yards in his Vikings career, and scored a combined 39 touchdowns during his time in Minnesota (28 rushing, 11 receiving). He appeared in all 70 games of his Vikings' career, starting in 51 of them. After he left Minnesota, he played four seasons with the Los Angeles Rams and one season with the Washington Redskins before hanging up the cleats.
However, the bigger distinction that Mason has was the fact that he was the first ever draft pick in Minnesota Vikings' history. Mason was selected by the Vikings with the first overall pick in the 1961 NFL Draft out of Tulane University. He's one of only two #1 overall picks in franchise history (the other being tackle Ron Yary in 1968).
Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune did a nice interview with Mason back in 2007 that will allow folks a little more insight into his career with the Vikings, including the fact that he didn't seem to think the Vikings were a real team.
"I received an information card from the Vikings during my senior season at Tulane," Mason said. "I didn't know anything about NFL expansion. As far as I knew, the Vikings were playing in some seven-man league in the Midwest."
Mason was traded from the Vikings to the Rams in 1967. The deal sent Mason, tight end Hal Bedsole and a second-round draft choice to the Rams for the 15th overall pick in the 1967 draft. That draft pick turned into defensive tackle Alan Page, who is one of the greatest players. . .if not the greatest player. . .in Minnesota Vikings' history.
Tommy Mason was 75 years old.
Mason's time with the Vikings was before my time, so if any of you have any memories of his time in purple and gold, it would be awesome if you could share them with those of us in the younger generation.
We would like to send our condolences to the family of Tommy Mason at this time.