Two iconic coaches, two transformational stars and two of the most popular Vikings in franchise history — that’s the Class of 2019 entering the Star Tribune Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame on Wednesday night.
John Gagliardi and Willard Ikola. Randy Moss and Lindsay Whalen. And Randall McDaniel and John Randle. This isn’t the first Hall of Fame for any of them, and likely not their last.
The inductees were nominated by Star Tribune readers and journalists and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during Wednesday night’s Minnesota Sports Awards at the Depot hotel. The first full class of inductees in more than a decade, the Class of 2019 is not lacking for star power:
Gagliardi died in 2018 at age 91 after having won more college football games than anyone in history. He won most of those at St. John’s, and the man and the football program became one and the same over six decades. Gagliardi defied conventional wisdom with no-tackle, no-whistle practices. He told his players to call him John, not Coach. When asked after his retirement for one word to describe his style, he chose “unorthodox.” Gagliardi did it his way to the tune of 489 victories and four national championships. Members of the Gagliardi family will be in attendance in his honor Wednesday night.
As a goalie, Ikola won three state hockey titles with Eveleth, two national titles at Michigan and helped the U.S. bring home a silver medal in the 1956 Winter Olympics. His success continued behind the bench after his one and only losing season as a rookie high school coach in Edina. Ikola’s Hornets won 19 section titles and eight state championships. In 1969, Edina and Ikola won their first title. When he retired in 1991, he had 616 career victories. In the first 47 years of the state hockey tournament, Ikola had been involved in 23 of them — four as a player and 19 as a coach.
The 19th overall pick by the Vikings in the 1988 draft, McDaniel earned a starting position right away and soon after began a streak of 202 consecutive starts that continued through the end of his career. He made the Pro Bowl for a dozen consecutive seasons. During the Vikings’ record-setting season of 1998, McDaniel allowed only 1.5 sacks all season while his blocking helped Minnesota running backs average 5.4 yards per carry. During his career, McDaniel blocked for six different 1,000-yard rushers and five 3,000-yard passers. He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s and in 2019 entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Moss is a player who not only changed the outcome of games but changed NFL defenses and the Vikings franchise and reignited the fan base after being drafted in 1998. The 1998 season was the first of five seasons that Moss led the NFL in touchdown receptions. During his 14 seasons (eight with the Vikings), Moss caught 10 or more touchdown passes nine times and had 10 seasons with 1,000 yards receiving. A six-time Pro Bowl selection, Moss was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2000s and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.
A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the defensive tackle was a dominant force on the line for the Vikings during the 1990s. He had a streak of 176 consecutive games played and made six consecutive All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams. During his career, he led the Vikings in sacks nine times and finished with a total of 137.5. He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s.
One of the greatest champions in Minnesota sports history. The former Gophers and Lynx point guard — with a Final Four appearance, two Olympic gold medals and four WNBA titles in her playing career — is now the coach of the Gophers women’s team. Whalen retired as the winningest player in WNBA history. In 15 seasons, the Hutchinson native was a part of 322 victories.
To read more about the 79 members and the Star Tribune Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame, go to www.startribune.com/halloffame.