Longtime Vikings center, Hall of Famer Mick Tingelhoff dies at 81

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Longtime Minnesota Vikings center and Hall of Famer Mick Tingelhoff died on Saturday, the team announced.

He was 81.

Tingelhoff played for the Vikings for 17 seasons from 1962-78, and didn’t miss a single game during that span. He holds the third-longest consecutive games played streak in NFL history at 240, behind only Brett Favre’s 297 and Jim Marshall’s 270. Longtime Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers matched Tingelhoff’s mark before he retired. Tingelhoff was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015.

Tingelhoff’s cause of death isn’t known, though his health was in decline in recent years. He was one of the initial group of players who filed a concussion lawsuit against the league, in which they claimed they were misled about the long-term effects of head injuries, per The Associated Press. The NFL eventually settled in 2013, and will pay an estimated $1 billion over a 65-year period, per the report.

The five-time All-Pro center went undrafted out of Nebraska, and only switched to center during the preseason of his rookie year.

“Mick was a catalyst for our team and one of the most respected players on those teams,” former coach Bud Grant once said, via The Associated Press. “I have no doubt that had he not played center he would have been a Hall of Fame linebacker. He played center with the mentality and tenacity of a linebacker. Mick’s intangibles were the thing that made him so great. He was a captain the whole time I coached him, and guys looked at him as an example of how to do things.”

Mick Tingelhoff poses with his bust along with presenter Fran Tarkenton in 2015
Mick Tingelhoff, seen here with Fran Tarkenton during his Hall of Fame ceremony in 2015, never missed a game in his 17 year career with the Vikings and has the third-longest consecutive games played streak in NFL history. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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