John Henry Ward, who was the Vikings' first-round selection (25th overall) in the 1970 NFL draft, died of cancer Tuesday.
Ward, 64, was a businessman in Oklahoma City. He played offensive line for the Vikings from 1970-75 and was on two Super Bowl teams before splitting the 1976 season between Chicago and Tampa Bay.
Ward was an All-America in both football and wrestling at Oklahoma State. He was a 6-4, 260-pound offensive tackle in football for the Cowboys, and finished third at heavyweight in the NCAA wrestling championships in 1969.
Terry Brown, a teammate of Ward's at Oklahoma State and with the Vikings, told the Daily Oklahoman: "One of the most likable guys there. Everybody liked to be around him. He was an ultimate teammate. Would go to battle for anybody.
"Bud Grant would come to Oklahoma and go hunting with him. They spent a lot of time hunting together."
Ward was a cattle rancher after retiring from the NFL and was vice president of the Poultry Federation and director of its Oklahoma City operations at the time of his death.
Allen should play
Vikings defensive end Jared Allen developed some minor lower back spasms after Sunday's 23-14 loss in Green Bay. But an MRI taken Monday on his back revealed no structural damage, according to an NFL source.
The Vikings expect him to be fine for Sunday's game against Chicago.
This past weekend, a report from Fox's Jay Glazer asserted that Allen had a torn labrum in his shoulder, an injury he's been playing with throughout this season. Allen has started all 12 games and has 30 tackles and 8.5 sacks and talked some about the shoulder problem after Sunday's game.
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder apparently is engaged to his girlfriend, ESPN reporter Samantha Steele.
Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) tweeted on Tuesday: "Spoke to ESPN's @Samantha_Steele today. She confirms she is engaged to @VikingsFootball quarterback Christian Ponder."