Roommates for 12 seasons and teammates on three of the Minnesota Vikings' four Super Bowl teams, Mick Tingelhoff and Fran Tarkenton had a bond that ran far deeper than words.
The quarterback and center were inseparable on the practice field. They spent years of their life together at training camp and on the road. When Tarkenton's father, Dallas, died after the Vikings' infamous "Hail Mary" loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the 1975 playoffs, Tingelhoff was with Tarkenton in a rented Winnebago outside Met Stadium, watching the Oakland Raiders-Cincinnati Bengals game as Jack Buck broke the news.
"We had no secrets from each other," Tarkenton said in February. "We wouldn't call it love, but it was love."
It wasn't hard to see brotherly love on display while watching Tarkenton present his "best friend" Tingelhoff for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
Tingelhoff, who started 240 consecutive games and never missed a practice in 17 seasons with the Vikings, has paid the price for his service to the team. He was one of hundreds of former players to sign onto the concussion lawsuit against the NFL. He struggles with memory loss now, and had initially planned to make a short speech.
Instead, on Saturday night, Tingelhoff directed Tarkenton to speak for him. And the quarterback, who'd said Tingelhoff had his back all those years, was there for Tingelhoff in Canton.
"Mick's a man of few words, but he's a man of action," Tarkenton said, his voice breaking as he added, "He waited 37 years to get to the Hall of Fame."
The speech lasted just 74 seconds -- or two for every year of Tingelhoff's wait -- but it drew a raucous ovation and a jubilant reaction from Tingelhoff's wife, Phyllis.
Few words were necessary to convey what Tarkenton and Tingelhoff mean to each other, or what the honor meant to the Vikings' center. On Saturday, a quarterback known for his verbosity, speaking for a center known for his concision, delivered one of the most powerful moments of the evening in Canton.