Reusse: Old Vikings mourn their pals, and badly want one more victory

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Paul and Pamela Krause arrived in the Twin Cities in 1968 after Paul changed job locations, being traded from Washington to the Vikings for linebacker Marlin McKeever and a seventh-round draft choice.

Odd trade in retrospect, considering Krause was a second-round draft choice (18th overall) out of Iowa in 1964 and, as a free safety, he had 28 interceptions in four seasons for Washington.

"We lived in Bloomington for a year, and then we bought 40 acres in Lakeville in 1969," Krause said this week. "It was just countryside, with a lake on the property. We built our house on five acres and there were 20 home lots."

This caused a considerable migration of Vikings to the area: some on lots bought from the Krauses, others finding homesites in the same area.

"Dave Osborn, Mick Tingelhoff, Bob Lurtsema, Wally Hilgenberg, Matt Blair and Ahmad Rashad had homes out here,'' Krause said. "Grady Alderman … he was out here for a while, too.

"And I might be missing a couple. I'm closing in on 80, you know."

There were families of Vikings raised out there, children that became friends almost from birth. And you never knew what star athlete might be dropping by at Rashad's to cause a stir.

"One day, Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] was visiting," Krause said. "And Reggie Jackson … he was walking through the neighborhood, throwing 'Reggie!' bars to everybody."

The Hilgenbergs lived a couple of miles away, and those kids joined the gaggle of offspring with frequency.

This is what is amazing: Basically through the '70s, Bev Osborn, Phyllis Tingelhoff, Pam Krause, Mary Hilgenberg and others could share an early cup of coffee with their husbands, watch them leave for work, get the kids headed for school, put in their day of work, and know their husbands would be at the family dinner table, except for those four weeks in Mankato.

NFL players who knew where they were going to be working from one July to the next … mind-blowing in 2021.

Lurtsema was traded to Seattle for Rashad early in the 1976, but he already was "Benchwarmer Bob," and going to Seattle simply became an opportunity for a new TCF commercial here in Minnesota.

There was some movement from the original development to Brackett's Crossing, the nearby golf development, with the Krauses and Osborns.

Fifty-three years after becoming teammates, Krause and Osborn remain attached at the hip. They hang out at Krause's building — way more than a man cave — in Webster, a tiny burg in Rice County.

There are excellent vehicles, and Krause's woodworking, and paintings by both Krause and keepsakes from his talented mother, and on and on. There is even Bev Osborn's uniform as a cheerleader from the Cubs of Cando High School in North Dakota. Husband Dave was the star athlete before becoming one of the all-time long shots to have a terrific Vikings career.

"I saw that cheerleading uniform in a bunch of clothes that Bev was going to throw away," Krause said. "I said, 'Oh, no, that goes on the wall in the shop.' "

There are dozens of Vikings jerseys, some reminders of their teammates, their pals, now gone — many damaged from playing football in the '60s, '70s and '80s.

On Sept. 11, that became Tingelhoff's No. 53. Mighty Mick, starter at center as an undrafted rookie in 1962, never missed a game over the next 17 seasons.

It took forever, but Tingelhoff finally received his Pro Football Hall of Fame reward in 2015. By then, those 240 consecutive games getting head-slapped in the Wild West days of the NFL had greatly reduced Tingelhoff's cognitive powers.

Tingelhoff's funeral was Wednesday at All Saints Catholic Church, in Lakeville, of course.

"The Osborn kids were there, the Hilgenberg kids … all the kids that could make it,'' Krause said. "Mick was a big Teddy bear of an uncle for all of them.''

The Vikings lost another player from the '70s a day later, when tackle Steve Riley, a starter for 128 games starting in 1974, died at 68 in California.

Last October, Matt Blair died at age 70, a great linebacker escorted to the hereafter by brain impairment. You want to be haunted: See the quote from Blair in 2015, the same year that his best friend and fellow linebacker, Fred McNeill, died from ALS and the brain disease CTE. Blair had gone through a neurological test and was told the early signs of dementia were likely CTE. He told the Star Tribune's Mark Craig: "Well, it's coming. It's going deeper for me.''

It was diagnosed as coming for Hilgenberg in 2006 — ALS, it was called then — and he died in September 2008. His family made what was then an extra-bold decision to donate Wally's brain for study, and the cause of death was changed to football-related brain disease.

"Mick never missed a game,'' Krause said. "Jim Marshall never missed a game. I missed two games in 16 seasons, both with Washington.

"With Bud [Grant] as the coach, if you were reliable — meaning, you had ability, didn't make mistakes and didn't miss games — you could keep your job in the lineup.''

It was the ethic of the age. To get a "bell rung'' and to keep playing helped to guarantee employment. Helped to guarantee you could say goodbye to the family in Lakeville early in the morning, go to work, and be home for dinner.

Krause's wife, Pam, was in a horrible car accident in 1995. Paul was the primary caregiver for a long time, and it's now a Krause daughter.

The old group keeps losing members. Dave and Bev remain, best friends, to the point the outdoor grill/kitchen that Krause has behind the building is called "Ozzy's."

Krause has bought the parkland back there. "Moose [Carl Eller] comes out once in a while … other guys,'' Krause said. "Good food, good stories."

Krause still has the NFL record with 81 career interceptions. He became eligible for the Hall of Fame induction in 1985 and didn't make it until 1998. And it was a longer wait for Tingelhoff — 31 years after eligibility in 2015.

"It's not over yet,'' Krause said. "We still have to get Jim Marshall in the Hall of Fame. Two hundred and 70 games in a row! With the sacks, with the excellence.

"We got one of our captains, our leaders, in the Hall with Mick. I won't look at my Hall of Fame honor and be satisfied until I know the leader of our defense, Jim Marshall, is in there, too."

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