Today, the Minnesota Vikings have lost one of the biggest pieces of their franchise history.
Fred Zamberletti, who served as the Vikings head athletic trainer for nearly four decades and served in various other capacities for the team, passed away on Sunday at the age of 86.
Zamberletti came on board with the Vikings at the inception of the franchise in 1961 as the team’s head athletic trainer, a capacity that he served in until 1998. He then served as the team’s head of medical services from 1999 to 2001, and then as a senior consultant and team historian from 2002 to 2018. He attended every game in franchise history until 2011, when he finally missed one. His overall streak added up to 1,049 games attended in some capacity.
Zamberletti played such a role in the history of the franchise that the team inducted him into their Ring of Honor in December of 1998. He is one of just five non-players to have been given that honor, along with coaches Jerry Burns, Bud Grant, and Dennis Green, as well as former General Manager Jim Finks.
Prior to getting into the field of medicine, Zamberletti served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry. He then graduated from the University of Iowa, and went on to become the head of physical therapy at Hibbing General Hospital and the head athletic trainer at the University of Toledo before joining the Vikings.
Here is a list of the honors that Zamberletti received, courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings’ official website:
In addition to numerous professional awards, Zamberletti was inducted into the Minnesota Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame and was chosen Professional Athletic Trainer of the Year in 1986 by the Drackett Company of Cincinnati. He and the Vikings staff earned the 1996 NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year award. In 1999 he earned the Cain Fain Award at the NFL Physicians Sports Sciences Symposium and was an Honorary Fellow of the Minneapolis Sports Medicine Center. Recognized by the governor as an Honorary Ambassador of the State of Minnesota, Zamberletti also received the Minneapolis Honorary Citizen Award. In 2011, Zamberletti was recognized by his alma mater with the Distinguished Alumni Award.
We want to send our condolences to the Zamberletti family on the event of Fred Zamberletti’s passing. He truly is one of the biggest pieces of Minnesota Vikings history, and had an impact on the Minnesota Vikings that few could match.