On Saturday, the Minnesota Vikings announced that legendary center Mick Tingelhoff had died at the age of 81. Tingelhoff started in all 240 games he played for the Vikings from 1962 to 1978 -- which is the most starts in a row by any NFL center and the second-most of any player in franchise history, according to the Vikings' official website. His No. 53 jersey was retired, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
"Mick Tingelhoff was the anchor of the great Vikings teams during an amazing era that included four Super Bowls," the Wilf family said in a statement. "A humble but strong leader, he defined toughness. Mick's legacy will live on as a Hall of Famer, on the field and off the field. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."
Tingelhoff joined the Vikings as an undrafted linebacker out of Nebraska, but quickly took over as their starting center and remained there for 17 years. He was a five-time All-Pro, six-time Pro Bowler and part of four Vikings Super Bowl squads.
With Tingelhoff snapping the ball, the Vikings won 10 divisional titles in an 11-season span from 1968 to 1978, according to his Hall of Fame profile. He was a leader who kept star quarterback Fran Tarkenton on his feet, and a pillar of the Vikings franchise.
"He goes down as one of the five greatest Vikings of all time," former Vikings head coach Bud Grant said, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "He was one of our greatest players and represented the Vikings as well as anybody I made him and Jim Marshall captains and they were throughout their whole careers."
Tingelhoff was a soft-spoken leader who would rather let his play do the talking. When he was finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after waiting 37 years, it was Tarkenton -- standing by his side -- who spoke for Tingelhoff in his acceptance speech.
Tingelhoff's name is included in the Vikings Ring of Honor, and he will be remembered as a football legend.