An Epic Streak Ends, How Far Does Vikes Ineptitude Extend?

And MFAN NFL Picks for Week 17!

Marc Elliott

SAWBILL LANDING… It was after eleven last Wednesday evening and my phone was ringing. I saw on the caller ID that it was my best friend and unofficial little brother Tom Zamberletti. I must say that I got that temporary jolt rushing through me because the “Ace” doesn’t call me at that time of night very often if at all. In addition, we both have parents who are getting on in years and one never knows right? So I answered the phone and Tom gave me the news; Freddie is in the hospital. My heart sank to my feet in record time.

In his next breath he said that he was going to be OK, but that “the streak” was over. Fred would be the one and only legendary trainer of the Minnesota Vikings, the only non-player or executive management member to be in the Vikings Ring of Honor. The streak would be that of being the only human being, the only Vikings employee ever to see every pre-season, regular season and post season game the Vikings have ever played in their 51 seasons of NFL competition. The streak ended at 1049 games. 

Can you imagine that? Having the same employer for 51 years and basically never missing a day of work? That is an incredible feat to me. And as far as practices go, I think, and I might be wrong, that he only missed 1 or 2 practices in that timeframe, and I think that occurred in the mid nineties in the year that the National Athletic Trainers had named him the National Trainer of the Year and he had to attend a function of some sort. 

Of course, time had taken a toll on his hands and several years back he was named a medical consultant to the team and moved out the Head Trainers role. I believe that change occurred when the Wilf’s purchased the club from Red McCombs, Fred was then named Team Historian. That title and role could not possibly be more appropriate as Fred is the last remaining original employee left from season one in 1961, and has been the one individual that has seen everything that has happened in the clubs history. 

Fred has been released from the hospital and is doing well. He didn’t get out in time to go out to Washington DC for Saturdays showdown and Vikes victory, but his doctor said he didn’t think travel would be in his best interest’s anyway. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Fred yet, but my folks did and said he was quite disappointed that his streak had come to an end. Fred hails from the hard scrabble coal mining area of Melcher, Iowa and had had a very strong work ethic built into him from an early age on. I am quite certain that missing out on the game Saturday has hit him more then he is letting on.

The main thing is that he is going to get past his ailment and be OK. For those of us who have had the fortune to know Fred over the years, we have all been aware of “the streak” for years now, and we are all sad to see it end. Streak or no streak, Fred has been a remarkable contributor to the success of the Vikings and their lore and history. All I can say is that the stories are endless and follow the entire depth and range of human emotion that the world of high level sports can bring you. He is as unique an individual as anyone who never missed a day of work in 51 years could be. He is also a heck of a card player, just ask former Viking and local resident Doug “Sudsie’ Sutherland….

WASH DC… The Vikes did go out to DC and won the game 33-26 and in the process all-everything running back Adrian Peterson tore up his knee pretty good and is done for the season. AP tore both the ACL and MCL and is in for a long rehab post surgery. This will be a tough road for him. What I want to know is who in the H-E-double hockey sticks decided to play your “franchise player” in a game between your 2-12 team and a 5-9 opponent? What is the wisdom of risking a talent like that in a meaningless game?

I saw a blurb in the Star-Trib saying the Vikes shouldn’t “apologize” for winning. I did not read the story, but let me comment on the headline. Yes, you should apologize. You went into the game 2-12 and now you are 3-12. You are going nowhere but home after Sundays tilt against the Bears. You have a chance to get one of the top three draft picks in the next NFL entry draft. Why are you tampering with that? WHY? Ok, I forgot. It’s the Vikings. On top of that, look at what AP is going to have to go through for the next few months, and let me remind you that there are no guarantees that he will come out of it the same player as before the ordeal. Dumb, dumb, dumb…. Why? PEACE  

MFAN SHORTS; The NHL currently has 29 players out with concussion symptoms representing about $80 mil in salary. Ouch! UMD Men’s Ice Hockey Head Coach Scott Sandelin is assisting the Team USA entry at the IIHF World Junior tourney in Canada. Team USA beat Denmark yesterday 11-3. OVER and OUT!



(Home team in CAPS)

PHIL over Wash

MIAMI over J-e-t-s

NEW ORL over Caro

CHEESE over Lion

San Fran over STL

Indy over JAX

PATS over Buff

HOUS over Tenn

VIKES over Bear

ATL over T-bay

Pitt over CLEVE

CINCY over Balt

DEN over Chefs

OAK over San D

NYG over Boys

Seattle over Cards

LAST WEEK 12-4  SEASON; 155-85

Marc Elliott is a free lance sports opinion writer who splits time between his hometown in Illinois and Minnesota. Elliott grew up in the Twin Cities with many of his childhood neighbors working or playing for the Vikings and Twins. He participated in baseball, football and hockey before settling on hockey as his own number one sport. Elliott recently wrote “The Masked Fan Speaks” column for the Lake County News Chronicle for the past ten years and was a prominent guest on the former “All Sports” WDSM 710AM in Duluth.