Milt Sunde, who played 11 seasons for the Vikings and was a Pro Bowl guard after starring for the Gophers, died Tuesday at age 78. Sunde had Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Born in Minneapolis, Sunde went to Bloomington High School before playing for the Gophers.
He was taken in the 20th round of the 1964 draft by the Vikings, the same year they took his Gophers teammate, Carl Eller, with the sixth overall pick.
Sunde played in 147 games, starting 113, for the Vikings. He also played in 11 playoff games, including two Super Bowls, and was in the 1967 Pro Bowl.
The team, in a statement, said, “He was part of the foundation that helped shape the Minnesota Vikings and contributed significantly to the development of an NFL expansion team into a Super Bowl participant.”
“He wasn’t big enough, strong enough or fast enough, but he built up his weight, speed and strength to become a starter on some great Vikings teams,” former Vikings coach Bud Grant told vikings.com.
Playing for the Gophers from 1961-63, Sunde was on a team that won a Rose Bowl following the 1961 season. He was team captain in 1963.
In 1974, Sunde was presented the YMCA-Brian Piccolo Award for Humanitarian Service for his work as chairman of the Walk for Mankind in the Twin Cities, which provided assistance for people in poverty.
In retirement, Sunde owned a sporting goods store. He was a head coach of the girls’ basketball team at Trinity, and an assistant coach at Augsburg.
In a 1998 Star Tribune story, Sunde said, “Some of the guys I played with could still play today. [Center Mick] Tingelhoff could play anytime, anywhere. I would have had a lot of trouble adjusting to the size and speed of the game today.
“One of the highlights of something like that was playing with people who are Hall of Fame level. You look back and there aren’t that many people at that caliber.”
He and his wife, Barbara, had been married for 54 years. He is also survived by four daughters and eight grandchildren.