So long, SoCal? Yary wants back in the Twin Cities

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 16, 2007 - 12:34 AM

Ron Yary got into the Pro Football Hall of Fame based on his 14 years in Minnesota, and -- if the housing market in Southern California improves -- he wants to move back.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Ron Yary, who left Minnesota 26 years ago in a trade from the Vikings to the Los Angeles Rams, wants to come back.

"I have two young boys: Jack, who is 5, and Grant, who is 2, and I want to raise them in a stable society that's not insane," Yary said recently. "I see things going on here with kids that I just want to get my family away from."

It might take a while for the Yarys to get here, thanks to the housing market in Southern California.

"I had my house on the market since last October, but I had to take it off [May 3] because the market is so down right now," said Yary, a real estate broker living with his wife, Jamie, and two sons in Murrieta, Calif., about 80 miles east of Los Angeles. "I do want to come back and raise the kids in Minnesota. But I'm not giving away my house. So, who knows, it could take a year or so, depending on what the market does."

Yary played football at Southern California and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1968 NFL draft. After a 14-year career with the Vikings, he played the final season of his career with the Rams in 1982, when they were still in Los Angeles.

"Minneapolis and St. Paul are great cities," Yary said. "I can't say enough about them. From my experience, it's as good a place to live as any place in America. Yeah, a couple months every year are horrible, but if you take every other reason when it comes to making a decision about where to live, Minneapolis and St. Paul come out on top."

Yary, who was born in Chicago on July 16, 1946, said he has always had a soft spot for the Midwest. He said he prefers the school systems, the cleaner air and the lower crime rate, among other things.

"Every measurement that you can take," he said, "the Midwest wins out. My wife is from Southern California, and has lived there her whole life. So if you know anybody who can put in a good word to her about Minnesota, let me know."

Even the Twin Cities' traffic congestion, which might seem unbearable to longtime Minnesotans, will be an improvement for Yary if he relocates.

"I'm driving 42 miles to work," Yary said. "When I first started out, it took 50 to 55 minutes. After a year and a half, it was an hour to an hour and 10 minutes. They say the average speed on the freeways in Los Angeles by 2012 will be 5 miles per hour. I don't want to spend my whole life sitting on the freeway."

Thirty-nine years ago, Yary became a player for Vikings Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant. If Yary does move to Minnesota, one of the cities he's considering is Eden Prairie.

"I hear Bud's son [Mike] is a pretty good high school coach in Eden Prairie," Yary said. "My sons are getting pretty big. Hopefully, Mike is still coaching. That would be something, to have Bud's son coach my sons."

A boy named Grant Yary playing football in Eden Prairie? Sure sounds right.

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