In the history of the Minnesota Vikings, there have been six numbers that have been retired so that no other player will ever wear them. The number 53 is the fifth of those numbers that we’ve reached in our numerical journey through the history of the team, and it belongs to the most recent Vikings’ inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Mick Tingelhoff somehow managed to go undrafted in the 1962 NFL Draft after an outstanding college career at the University of Nebraska. As an undrafted free agent, he signed with the Minnesota Vikings following that 1962 Draft, and won the starting center spot for the second-year franchise during Training Camp.
All Tingelhoff did after that was start every single game for the Vikings for the next seventeen seasons. Counting the postseason, the Minnesota Vikings took the field 259 times between 1962 and 1978, and Mick Tingelhoff was the starting center for each and every one of those contests. At the time of his retirement, his streak of 240 consecutive regular season starts was the second-longest streak in the history of the league, behind only his teammate, Jim Marshall.
Tingelhoff was one of the best centers of his. . .or any other. . .era. He was a five-time First-Team All-Pro, and a six-time Pro Bowler. He was the anchor on the offensive line for each of the Vikings’ four Super Bowl teams, and I have a feeling that if the Vikings had managed to win even one of those contests, he would not have had to wait for the ridiculous length of time that he did before finding his way to Canton. However, 37 years after he announced his retirement from the NFL, he was finally enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
Tingelhoff is a member of the Minnesota Vikings’ Ring of Honor, one of the 50 Greatest Vikings of All Time, and is on a very short list of the greatest offensive linemen ever to wear the purple and gold.
Vikings that have worn the number 53:
- Mick Tingelhoff (1962 - 1978)
- Henry Johnson (1980 - 1983)
- Tim Meamber (1985)
- Jeff Schuh (1986)
- Sam Anno (1987 - 1988)
- Steve Ache (1987)
- David Braxton (1989 - 1990)
- Richard Newbill (1990)
- Ivan Caesar (1991)
- Fred Strickland (1993)
- Tuineau Alipate (1995)
- Kivuusama Mays (1998)
We’ll pick up with #52 tomorrow, folks!