On the same day that his beloved and woeful Minnesota Vikings were losing on "Monday Night Football," time ran out on Emmett Pearson at his home near Red Wing — and the beard he vowed nearly 39 years ago to never shave until the Purple won a Super Bowl remained with him to the end.
Emmett J. Pearson, who grew his whiskers following the Vikings' championship defeat in 1975 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, died Monday at his farm home in Vasa. He was 83.
"I made a vow, and I'm going to stick with it," Pearson said in an interview with the Rochester Post-Bulletin in January 2010, the day after the Vikings fell one game short of getting to the Super Bowl with Brett (5 o'clock shadow) Favre at quarterback. "But I think my wife would just as soon I give it up."
Daughter Amy Pearson chuckled Friday, the day of his funeral, thinking about the frustrations of Vikings fans and wondering "who would have that kind of devotion to that team? But he was a man of his word. He didn't ever have an option."
She tried to get her father to shave his beard for her wedding 18 years ago, but "he said no. That's the kind of man he was. He had an unwavering conviction toward the Vikings."
The beard nearly fell to the cutting-room floor just two years after first sprouting, but the Vikings fell instead, 32-14, to the NFL champion Oakland Raiders. The Vikings have never been to the big game since, all four of their defeats coming in the same decade.
During the Vikings' powerhouse 1998 season, shaving cream and razors routinely arrived in his mailbox. But his Amish-like facial hair — sans mustache — survived when his beloved team lost out to Atlanta for a Super Bowl berth.
Pearson is survived by his wife of 56 years, Rosann, and their five children, three of whom never saw their father clean-shaven. Services were held at Vasa Lutheran Church. Burial followed at the church cemetery.
The Rev. Kristi Mitchell, who officiated the service, said Pearson's postmortem fashion included a Vikings cap and sweatshirt.
Also, "he was very adamant that the beard not be shaved off" for his funeral, she added. "We ended the service by singing the Vikings fight song."
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482