CANTON, Ohio – And on the third afternoon, Mick Tingelhoff rested.
The former Vikings center didn’t participate in Friday afternoon’s news conferences for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015 in part because, well, he was just plain exhausted. The 75-year-old Tingelhoff’s whirlwind began with Wednesday’s arrival, went late Thursday, started again early Friday and will get only busier Saturday morning through Sunday night.
“We have a lot ahead of us,” said Mick’s son, Pat. “Mick’s excited. But he wanted to go back to the hotel and get some rest.”
The family also didn’t think a 45-minute news conference setting would be good for Tingelhoff, whose memory is failing.
Fellow 2015 enshrinee Will Shields said he’s just glad to be in the same class as a fellow Cornhusker that he didn’t know much about until this year. Shields was a third-round draft pick of the Chiefs in 1993. Tingelhoff was a rookie free agent of the Vikings 31 years earlier.
“I was disappointed in myself that I didn’t even know we had a guy in the league who played as long as he did and had set a tone beyond what Nebraska linemen should be,” Shields said. “That’s why I’m honored to be here with him and to be around him so I can actually see what that’s like.
“They say it takes patience to get to the Hall of Fame. He must be a very patient man.”
Tingelhoff received his gold jacket during a ceremony that didn’t end until late Thursday night. Friday morning began with a photo op at the Hall of Fame at 9:30 a.m. followed by the annual Ray Nitschke VIP luncheon for enshrinees, who suddenly become rookies again as they’re instructed to sit and listen to the veterans discuss what being a Hall of Famer has meant to them.
Tingelhoff was scheduled to attend a Vikings alumni dinner in town Friday night. Tingelhoff’s presenter, Vikings Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, was scheduled to arrive Friday afternoon and attend the dinner.
Saturday begins with the Hall of Fame parade at 8 a.m. local time. The enshrinement starts at 7 p.m., and there’s a party afterward for the enshrinees. And, finally, the class is introduced at halftime of Sunday’s Hall of Fame game between the Vikings and Steelers.
“It’s a busy week,” Pat said.
Longtime NFL executive Ron Wolf, another member of the Hall’s 2015 Class, said, “I wish I had the words to describe how this feels.” He also talked about his respect for Tingelhoff and his loathing of the Vikings’ colors once he arrived in Green Bay to start turning the Packers around in 1991.
“When I was a lot younger, I used to like to wear purple; I did,” Wolf said. “I had purple shirts and all that. But I moved to Green Bay and suddenly I couldn’t stand the color of purple, and that was because of our neighbors five hours to the west.”
Wolf expects to be joined in Canton next year by former longtime Packers and short-time Vikings quarterback Brett Favre.
“If he’s not a first-ballot Hall of Famer, then I’m not quite sure what one would be,” Wolf said. “He is, without a doubt, in my 38 years in the game, the best player I was ever around.”
Favre’s time will come. For now, the whirlwind belongs to Tingelhoff and his fellow classmates, including Charles Haley, who gave Tingelhoff a massive bear hug and said something into his ear while on stage during Thursday night’s gold jacket ceremony.
“I’m not sure what I said,” Haley said. “I probably said, ‘I love you, man.’ ”