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Minnesota Vikings: Former Center Mick Tingelhoff Named Hall of Fame Candidate by Senior Committee

Per Chris Tomasson at the Pioneer Press, former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff has been named a Hall of Fame candidate by the Hall of Fame senior committee.

Mick Tingelhoff Vikings
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The selection process for candidates from the senior committee differs from the “normal” selection process, as detailed by the Hall of Fame’s website:

Like the full Committee, the members of the Seniors Committee are provided a preliminary list of eligible nominees.  The list, which is compiled and mailed to the selectors by June 1, includes carry-over nominations from the previous year, first-time eligible candidates, and nominations from any outside source.  By way of a mail ballot the Committee members reduce the list to 15 Senior Nominee finalists.   Five members of the nine-man Committee, selected on a rotating basis, are designated to attend the annual Seniors Committee meeting held in Canton, where they are charged with the responsibility of nominating candidate(s) from that list to be among the 18 finalists for Hall of Fame election.  In advance of the meeting, each selector is provided with detailed biographical information on the candidates.

Senior Committee members are assisted during their annual meeting by two Hall of Fame consultants, chosen by the Hall’s president, who were contemporaries of the majority of the nominees.  The consultants offer only their opinions and are not entitled to vote.  After each candidate is discussed thoroughly, the consultants are excused from the meeting.  Additional discussion is conducted followed by a series of reduction votes that results in the naming of Senior Nominee(s).

Although the Senior Nominee(s) and Contributor Nominee(s) will be presented to the full Selection Committee as a finalist, their election to the Hall of Fame is not automatic.  The Senior Nominee(s) and Contributor Nominee(s) must receive the same minimum 80% of the vote as a Modern Era candidate to be elected.

Peter King, in his MMQB column, makes Tingelhoff’s case to be in the Hall as well as anyone:


I think I have one name to keep in mind as the Pro Football Hall of Fame senior committee gathers this week in Canton to nominate one old-timer for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, class of 2015: Mick Tingelhoff. Think of Tingelhoff’s greatest accomplishment: For the last 358 games of his 17-year career—99 preseason games, 240 regular-season games, 19 postseason games—Tingelhoff started. He failed to start only once—the first exhibition game of his career for the Vikings in 1962. Amazing. He dressed for 359 games in 17 years, and started the last 358. “He never missed a practice either,’’ his onetime quarterback, Fran Tarkenton, said. He made first-team All-Pro seven times; no NFL center was voted first-team All-Pro more times. Back when the Pro Bowl meant something, a back playing behind Tingelhoff made the Pro Bowl 13 times.

Missing in Peter King’s well-argued case is the fact that none of those backs that made the Pro-Bowl behind his blocking were inducted into the Hall of Fame themselves.

The “first-team All-Pro” is a bit, but not entirely, misleading as he made the Associated Press All-Pro five times, but has seven total season recognized as All-Pro by one of the Associated Press, United Press International, Pro Football Weekly and the Pro Football Writer’s Association. These All-Pro recognitions outside of the AP were considered at the time every bit as prestigious.

Every center with four or more AP All-Pro selections is in the Hall of Fame, except Mick Tingelhoff (they are Jim Otto, Bulldog Turner, Dermontti Dawson, Jim Ringo, Mel Hein, Mike Webster, Jim Langer and Dwight Stephenson). Jim Otto’s All-AFL selections are included in Pro-Football-Reference’s AP All-Pro count, which is part of the reason that the generic AP All-Pro award has not been awarded more times to any single center. Also of note, when the All-Pro candidacy was expanded to include the AFL before the merger (1967-1969), Tingelhoff beat out Otto two of three times.

Of the three centers with three All-Pro recognitions, one is in the Hall of Fame (Frank Gatski), one will be (Kevin Mawae) and one only played in the NFL for three years (Clyde Smith).

Tingelhoff’s ironman reputation is powerful and well-worth commendation, but also worth consideration is that he was considered the best center in either league at cutting off the middle linebacker on runs, and played with surprising quickness for quite some time in his career. His quickness was also useful when cross-blocking, a technique which has linemen swap which defenders they’re blocking, creating unique angles in the run game and confusing defensive keys (and it helped Ed White look even better, too). He sustained blocks at the second level better than almost every center in the era and was excellent at blitz pickup.

Further, Tingelhoff was a captain every year Bud Grant was with him and was considered not just a team leader, but an invaluable help on the practice field. His intelligence helped guide the potent Vikings offenses that he played center under.

The knock on Tingelhoff’s career remains the Super Bowl failures of the Vikings, as well as what many perceive to be struggles against larger tackles lined up over the center, like Joe Greene, Curley Culp and Buck Buchanan. While Jim Otto had similar struggles (and more consistently) against these defensive tackles, he doesn’t have this knock on his career, perhaps because Tingelhoff’s worst performances against these players happened to occur in the few Super Bowl meetings, despite good performances against them in the regular season.

Without much national exposure (true of nearly any team outside of teams with “national appeal,” like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders), his performance in one or two games may have overshadowed his far superior performances against these same players on a more consistent basis. It didn’t help that he wasn’t as large as the new generation of centers entering the league as a result of defensive changes. It’s somewhat of an unfair burden, as centers in the 1960s were selected for their agility and ability to match up against middle linebackers, but over- and under-shifted fronts in the 1970s encouraged defensive tackles to attack the center directly, as they stopped lining up over guards directly. That said, he was far better than his reputation at this responsibility.

It also doesn’t help that Tingelhoff’s career looks inconsistent when gazing back into history. A six-time All-Pro offensive linemen would likely make the hall with a nine or ten year career, but not when you add seven more years onto it for reasons that have more to do with the flaws of human cognition than they do rational sense.

Mick Tingelhoff should make the Hall of Fame this year if only because the football universe needs to correct a grave injustice.

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  1. I agree with almost everything Arif, but I take umbrage with your very first sentence “none of those backs that made the Pro-Bowl behind his blocking were considered Hall of Fame-caliber players.” I understand you’re too young to have seen Chuck Foreman play, but he had Hall-of-Fame capability. He was named NFC rookie of the year 1973.
    Foreman was named NFC player of the year by The Sporting News in 1974 and by UPI in 1976.
    He was named All-Pro in 1975 and played in five consecutive Pro Bowls (1973–1977).
    Foreman had 3 straight seasons rushing for 1,000+ yards (1975–1977) and scored a then NFC record 22 Touchdowns in 14 games during the 1975 campaign.
    Foreman just missed a rare NFC ‘Triple Crown’ (rushing yards, receptions & TDs) in 1975 as well. He led the NFL with 73 receptions, came in second with 22 TD’s, and finished 5th in rushing yards with 1070 in a 14 game season.
    This article lists him as the 11th best RB not in the Hall-of-Fame ahead of Robert Smith, but behind Herschel Walker
    Through the first five years of their careers yds are the yards from scrimmage (rushing & receiving)
    Chuck Adrian
    97 yds/game 6 TDs 115 yds/game 13 TDs
    105 yds/game 15 TDs 118 yds/game 10 TDs
    125 yds/game 22 TDs 113 yds/game 18 TDs
    124 yds/game 14 TDs 110 yds/game 13 TDs
    101 yds/game 9 TDs 93 yds/game 13 TDs
    Those numbers came from for Foreman and for Peterson.
    You have to add the rushing yards per game to the receiving yards per game to get the average yards per game number I wrote.
    I think the numbers are pretty comparable, and that’s not taking into consideration playing indoors to playing outdoors; although that may not make that large of a difference. While he probably will never get into the Hall-of-Fame, I feel he certainly had as much talent as some people in there, making him Hall-of-Fame caliber in my opinion. If this doesn’t sway you to believe that Chuck Foreman is a Hall-of -Fame caliber player then we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that. There are also some videos of him on “Youtube” including this one This isn’t meant to start an arguement, it’s just that with that first sentence you wrote I think it was a little insulting to my favorite all time Viking that’s all. Maybe I’m being sensitive.
    Anyway another great article and Mick certainly deserves to be in the Hall. On a side note, Mick’s brother was my pediatrician in the mid-70’s; at least that’s what my parents have told me. SKOL!

    1. It posted different then how I typed it up. The statistics are Chuck’s yds first, then his TDs, followed by Adrian’s yds and TDs. Each line compares that year of their career. So the first line is both of their rookie years and the second line is their second year in the league and so on. I hope there’s no confusion. Knee injuries in 1978 and then again in 1979 effectively ended his career. Although he did play one final year in 1980 for the Patriots. SKOL!

      1. With you Tom, Chuck was Mr. Everything to those 70’s Viking offenses. That 75′ season he came 6 yards shy of the NFC triple crown. His 22 TD’s were 2nd to OJ who played in the AFC. I believe Jim Otis of the Cardinals had 1,076 yards to lead the NFC in rushing.
        I did get to meet Chuck in 1979 after the Cardinal game…I say meet but all I did was ask him 3-4 times for his autograph…he never acknowledged that poor 12 year old. He was talking to some blonde bimbo, whom he planted a kiss on and left. Ah well, no hard feelings Chuck. But if you’re reading this how about mailing me a nice 8×10 of your playing days with that signature? Then we could put that behind us…

        1. Yeah, you know what, I didn’t realize he’d compare as closely to Adrian as he did. Chuck is nowhere near the runner Adrian is, but when you look at combined rushing/receiving yards from scrimmage per game they are pretty close, and Chuck’s TD numbers are from a 14 game season, not 16, like Adrian. When I see someone like Floyd Little get into the H.O.F. it gives me hope that possibly Chuck could get consideration one day, and then Arif could change the first sentence again (Thank You Arif for doing that). I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting him, but a couple of my friends went to training camp 4-5 years ago, and said he was a real nice guy. I live in CA. now, but would still like to make it back there for a training camp just to meet him. Although I think there’s a saying about never meet your heroes, so maybe not. And you’re right about that Cardinal running back beating Chuck by 6 yards. That was the only time in that guy’s career he gained over 1000 yds, and it had to be that year.That was also the year at Buffalo, in the final game of the season, where Chuck and O.J. were battling for the TD record. Chuck actually reached 22 TDs before OJ. On Chuck’s 22 TD a fan threw a snowball that hit Chuck in the eye scratching his eye lens. He missed the rest of the game and OJ would gone on to score two more TDs to pass Chuck for the record. Those were great years in the mid-70s. Mick deserves to be in the Hall, and hopefully Marshall and Chuck get there as well.

  2. In those days centers snapped EVERYTHING, i.e. Mick long snapped for a variety of kickers/punters, most notably Freddie Cox, and reliably did so under some of the most atrocious conditions imaginable: always outdoors, in rain/snow/heat/wind, on grass [if there was any left between the hashes], covering every punt. Regarding his work against middle linebackers: he faced the likes of Butkus, Nitschke, Lambert, Buoniconti, George, Schmidt, Lanier, Huff, Jordan, and Gradishar. Funniest story: He looked up to see if it was raining because the ball was all wet only to find Butkus spitting all over it to make it slippery. Those were the days…

  3. Mick was and is a 1st class guy on and off the field. Congratulations Mr. Tingelhoff! Didn’t know he came to the team as a MLB…Coach Grant said he coulda been a great LB.
    Great listen on where Tark and Bud talk about it.
    When he gets in I would love to see Fran take one more snap from him…that’s got to happen, right?

  4. Butkus, Lambert, Nitschke… Mick took ’em all on and they kept an eye out for him. His selection has been a no-brainer for a long time. The HoF will not be legitimate until it includes Mick Tinglehoff.

  5. “Butkus, Lambert, Nitschke… Mick took ‘em all on”
    ‘Nuff said.
    Well said Coach!

  6. ‘ bout friggin time

    The best linebacker of all time was Butkus (IMHO) In his book, “Stop Action”, (look it up), Butkus wrote about how he hated playing against Tingelhoff. Not because Mick was a dirty player, quite the opposite. Tingelhoff played clean and still kept Butkus off the ball. Butkus even tried mind Games with Tinglehoff, like hocking a big loogie on the ball before Mick snapped it. Didn’t work.

    It’s been said here before and I’ll say it again. It ain’t really a football hall of fame without Mick Tinglehoff

  7. When I see the names of the other centers who are in… well, it just makes his absence that much worse.

  8. it should never have come to this. tingelhoff should’ve been in already. winning a SB or two would’ve helped. hope he makes it

  9. Agreed Cal. I have always felt the Vikes should be 2-2 in Super Bowls. I really believe Miami and Oakland had the better teams in those two games, but the Kansas City and Pittsburgh games were ones we should have won. One or both of those wins would have likely put both Marshall and Tinglehoff into the Hall, which only goes to show the shallowness of some of these voters.

  10. Just two more things to Arif’s very good article.

    The 1st – Yes, Super Bowls wins are a very important factor for the Hof comittee, BUT imho not so huge how people usually thinks. What I mean? This year just 3 of the 7 HoFamers inductees are SB champions, and just 1, Ray Guy, won the Lombardi more than one time. Between the 4 others, Claude Humphrey never played one, Walter Jones and Aeneas Williams each lost 1 SB and Andre Reed lost 4 SBs. And what about the great teams who lost the most SBs without a win? They have each other 6 HoF (Smith, Thomas, Kelly, Lofton, Reed and coach Levy for the Bills; Tarkenton, Yary, Krause, Eller, Page ad coach Grant for us Vikings). You know that teams who won 5 SB with the 49ers have 9 HoFamers (Young, Montana, Sanders, Lott, Jackson, Rice, Dear, Dent and coach Walsh) and “just” 6 of them inducteed for their contribution with the Niners jersey? So, I don’t think that SBs are a real must between the induction comittee..

    The 2nd – Yes, Tingelhoff was the center of the team who lost 4 SBs, but let’s going to see the “animals” of MLBs and DTs he faced in those matches..

    1969 – DT: Curley Culp, 2013 HoFamer; MLB: Willie Lanier, 1986 HoFamer
    1973 – DT: Bob Heinz; MLB: Nick Buoniconti, 2001 HoFamer
    1974 – DT: Joe Greene, 1987 HoFamer; MLB: Jack Lambert, 1990 HoFamer
    1976 – DT: Dave Rowe; MLB: Willie Hall


    Man, I don’t think an NFL center has ever faced greater defensive players than the ones who faced Mick Tingelhoff.. The comittee HAS to consider that before to say “OK, he lost 4 SBs”!

    I want to believe that this is the time he finally got the bust, beacause he simply deserves it. And honestly, behind my love for the Vikings, a non-Tingelhoff-induction would be one of the worst pages of Canton HoF.. Greetings from Italy and SKOL Vikings!

    P.S. Sorry for my english..

  11. Mick came to my hometown a few times, as did many Vikes players for St. Pat’s day…….class act all the way, and LONGGGGGG overdue for the HOF

  12. I honestly believe he is more deserving of being in the HoF than Ron Yary. Or Jim Marshall, for that matter.

    I’d like to see the Senior Committee consider Grady Alderman, too.