Who was Vikings Hall of Famer Joe Kapp who passed away at 86-years-old
A legend of the Canadian Football League and one of the greatest players to ever play for the Minnesota Vikings, Joe Kapp passed away on Monday.
As a member of both the College and Canadian Football Hall of Fame, Kapp was in fact the first quarterback to lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl. The UC product was voted one of the franchise’s 50 greatest players during the 2020 season.
Vikings’ Hall of Famer Joe Kapp passes away
According to a statement from his alma mater, the University of California, legendary quarterback Joe Kapp passed away on Monday. He was 86-years-old. A true legend of the game, Kapp made a name for himself in the CFL with the BC Lions, winning a title in 1964. Fittingly, the Lions have since retired his No. 22 jersey.
“Joe Kapp will go down as one of the all-time great players for not only our franchise but the entire Canadian Football League,” said Lions co-general manager and director of football operations Neil McEvoy. “Along with helping put the Lions on the map after some lean early years, Joe also served as a trailblazer for quarterbacks making a name for themselves on both sides of the border. Our thoughts are with Joe’s wife Jennifer and the entire family at this time.”
Joe Kapp’s move to the NFL was destiny
With his performances in the CFL turning heads, it was only a matter of time before the biggest stage came calling. In 1967, Kapp was traded from the CFL to the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. Once there, he joined the likes of the late Bud Grant, who incidentally faced Kapp as an opponent when he coached the CFL’s Blue Bombers.
“We needed somebody who could kind of get this team off the mark, and Joe was that kind of a guy,” Grant said of Kapp during a 1969 documentary on the ‘69 Vikings. “Could he throw spirals, could he throw it long and accurate enough? I hadn’t measured all of those things. All I knew was that he was a winner.” Truer words were never spoken. From his college days, when he won a Grey Cup before a conference title and a Rose Bowl appearance in 1958, Kapp was a cut above the rest. Further confirmation of the fact came in 1968, when Kapp led the Vikings to their very first playoff berth, though they would end up losing to the eventual NFL champions, the Indianapolis Colts. He would make up for that the very next season, when the Vikings took on the Colts in Week 2. Facing Indianapolis’ brutal defense, Kapp threw for a sensational seven touchdown passes, a record he shares with seven other players to this day in what turned out to be a 52-14 Minnesota win.
Joe Kapp In his words
Known for an unusual throwing style, Kapp was something to behold. “I did not use the laces,” Kapp said, “and that’s probably unique.” His former Vikings teammate, Jim Marshall, spoke to Kapp’s unorthodox way. “He threw some passes that looked like ducks,” added Marshall, “but they got in the hands of the receivers.” Indeed, they did. That season, the Vikings ended with a record of 14-2 including the playoffs. Before the curtain came down on their title run, they had beaten the Rams and the highly favored Browns to take the title itself.
“It was something to feel,” Kapp said of the Vikings’ 27-7 NFL title game win over Cleveland. “And when it feels that good, you just want to treasure that feeling, keep it with you and hope that you remember it when you get to be my age.”
Football called Joe Kapp after his NFL days
Following his playing career, Kapp took a path into coaching and actually had a successful career at California. So much so in fact, that he was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 1982. One of his former players, Ron Rivera, who is today coach of the Washington Commanders referred to Kapp as an “inspiration” in his life to this day.
“As a tough individual who loved everything about his life,” Rivera said, “everything about being from California and having gone to the University of California at Berkley, which he truly loved. He would want people to know he gave his all, all the time.”
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