Former Vikings land in Two Harbors
By: Lake County News-Chronicle, Forum Newspapers, Lake County News Chronicle
Former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joe Kapp watched football video highlights on Saturday at Lakeview National Golf Course in Two Harbors, and Kapp still remembered the play, even if he didn’t actually remember the play.
Kapp was knocked unconscious by a one-arm clothesline from 49ers Hall of Fame linebacker Dave Wilcox after scoring on a bootleg. It was the type of cheap hit that would draw a long suspension today, but it only got Wilcox a tongue-lashing back then. That was just football.
“I don’t think he got a penalty, but I don’t know because I got knocked out,” Kapp said. “I do know that I went back in the game.”
Vikings fans gathered on Saturday at Lakeview National to golf with their childhood heroes as part of a fundraiser for Two Harbors High School athletics. While the weekend of fundraising may come up short of its $25,000 goal, by all accounts, it was a resounding success.
On Friday, the players gathered at Viking Legends to sing autographs and pose for pictures with fans.
Eleven former Vikings took part (Kapp, Jim Marshall, Bob Lurtsema, John Gilliam, Oscar Reed, Autry Beamon, Ted Brown, Joey Browner, Rickey Young, Carl Eller and Superior native Doug Sutherland), four former Minnesota Kicks professional soccer players (Geoff Barnett, Alan Willey, Steve Litt and Alan Merrick), former Packer Marv Fleming, longtime Gophers announcer Dick Jonckowski and former NFL referee Steve Hurvitz in what local fans hope becomes an annual tradition.
J.J. Hraban of Two Harbors golfed with a group that included Young, his dad, Joe, Sure-Fab co-worker Casey Salakka and Sue Anderson, the general manager at Viking Legends Sports Bar & Grill. The fans and former players gathered there again Saturday night to watch the Vikings’ preseason game against Dallas.
“My dad absolutely loves the Vikings, so this meant the world to him,” Hraban said. “He’s an old-school, diehard fan, and it doesn’t matter if they’re winning or not, he’s going to watch them every week. It still hasn’t quite hit me.”
“Rickey was so easygoing. I didn’t even know who we were playing with until I met him at the first tee box, and seriously, from there, it was like we had known each other for 10 years. Nothing but fun.”
Indeed, Young’s group had more laughs than a night at a comedy club.
Young, a former Vikings running back from 1978-83, proved no slouch on the links, either, carding a birdie on the par 4 No. 17 hole all by himself, even though it was a best-ball format. They finished among the top teams at 12-under-par.
“Other teams might be able to out-hit us, but they can’t out-fun us,”
Young said. “Impossible.”
The outing served as a makeshift Vikings’ reunion.
Kapp, 73, stayed back at the clubhouse where he swapped stories with the likes of Jonckowski and Eller, the NFL Hall of Fame defensive end who was one of the cornerstones of the Vikings’ famed Purple People Eaters of the 1970s.
Kapp coined the term “40 for 60,” meaning the 40 players on the roster would go all-out for 60 minutes, and he lived it. Rosters are much bigger now, and Eller laughed at how teams now have 23 coaches.
“You can’t find the camaraderie that we had in the game today. It no longer exists,” Eller said. “We had a commitment to each other and an attachment to the fans that extended beyond the field.”
Lurtsema recalled the days of celebrating after games with fans in the parking lot at Met Stadium.
“This was a blast,” Lurtsema said of golfing with the fans and former players. “Today’s players make more in one game than I made in my 12-year career, and more power to them, but they will never have the memories that we’ve got. We played for the love of the game.”
Kapp is a great example of that.
Kapp is the only quarterback to have ever played in the Super Bowl, Rose Bowl, and Grey Cup and is one of only five to ever have seven touchdown passes in a single game, but he is perhaps remembered more for his fearlessness. All that toughness, however, took a toll.
“Somebody once asked me if I had any injuries, and I said, ‘Where do you want me to start? At the top, or at the bottom?’” Kapp said, laughing.
As Kapp watched video of himself, complete with a two-hand shuttle pass, a jump pass and a play in which he knocked out the Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl linebacker Jim Houston, Kapp said, “This is just your basic average quarterback, isn’t it?”
Not in that era, and certainly not in this one.