When P.J. Fleck was hired as Gophers football coach in January 2017, he followed the protocol of several Minnesota coaches before him: He had to meet Sid Hartman as quickly as possible.
The impression was immediate and lasting.
“To know Sid was to love Sid,” Fleck said during a video conference Monday. “Sid is what Minnesota’s all about.”
Hartman, the longtime Star Tribune sports columnist, Gophers booster and Minnesota legend, died Sunday at age 100. The loss was felt all over the state, including the Gophers football complex.
“We had a lot of intimate talks, very private talks away from football. There would be those 10-15 questions he had, then we had our talks about life,” said Fleck, 39. “You’re talking about someone who lived to 100 years old, worked his entire life, never looked at work as work, never looked at a job as a job. He literally did what he loved to do all the way through his passing.”
Fleck used Hartman’s life as a teaching moment for his team.
“We talked to our team last night about that, about finding something you love to do that you never have to stop doing. And that’s what Sid’s about. … When you think about all the things Sid Hartman saw in his life and all the experiences he had, there was a reason why he captured the hearts of so many.”
Win and you’re in
Lindsay Whalen’s memories she shared Monday on Twitter of Sid began with her remembering “waking up on weekend mornings reading Sid’s column with my dad. Recapping our favorite teams and what to look for coming up.”
Whalen went on to star at the U, where “it quickly became on of my goals to be covered by Sid. My dad always told me, just do what Sid says, “win baby.” ‘Win and they will come’ became my mentality.”
Win is exactly what Lindsay’s Gophers did. Here’s how the current Gophers women’s basketball coach remembers it: “It will always be one of the highlights of my career. My sophomore year when we beat a ranked Purdue team at Williams Arena, in front of 10,000 fans, to not only have Sid in the arena, but ask to meet me after the game.”
Hartman rarely covered women’s sports. Whalen broke though, and she’s thankful for that.
“So, Sid thank you for everything you have done for Minnesota sports! Thank you for inspiring me to push me and my team a level that no matter what sport or gender, if you win and do it the right way, you can capture the attention of an entire state. “Win baby” RIP Sid.”
Adam Thielen, the subject of Sid’s final column Sunday, began his postgame media session later that day with his thoughts on Sid.
“I heard about his passing, so I just wanted to start off with that,” he said. “I just did a story for him the other day. He was obviously a big part of this organization and was always around the facility — pre-this time — but I just wanted to start off with that.”
He expanded on his thoughts Monday on Instagram: “I will miss your presence around our team and the way you worked as hard as anyone could for 75+ years. Thank you for doing so much for the state that you and I both love so much. You truly are a legend. Rest in peace, Sid.”
Kirk Cousins also recognized Sid postgame Sunday: “What a life,” he said. “What a legacy he left.”
• During the second quarter of Monday’s Chiefs-Bills game, Fox announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman offered a salute. “Journalism, like in life, is about relationships,” Buck said. “Nobody had better relationships in the sports world than the now late, great Sid Hartman.” Added Aikman: “He’d look me up after Vikings games and want to talk about what I saw and then he’d write his article. … He was in amazing health, and we lost an icon.”
• Arizona Cardinals wide receiver and Minneapolis native Larry Fitzgerald Jr.: “Minnesota lost a native son & a true legend in the world of Minnesota sports. Sid Hartman was a self-made man, pioneer, & visionary who loved his craft and the people in his life. RIP Sid, you will be deeply missed.”
• Bears returner and former Viking Cordarrelle Patterson tweeted a photo of Sid hustling to catch up to Patterson in the Metrodome years ago, with the caption: “The only man who could consistently chase me down. Rest In Peace, Sid.”
• National NFL reporter Peter King of NBC wrote about Sid on Monday, letting his big audience know how he felt about the giant’s passing at 100. “He should be celebrated. His ethos, his drive, was singular in this business.”