Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Granddaughter’s Long-Awaited Hall of Fame Smile

Photo Contributed by Jazzmyn Tingelhoff
On Hall of Fame weekend, Jazzmyn Tingelhoff watched her life-long dream come true. It might have been long overdue, but that didn’t matter — Mick Tingelhoff has been and always will be a hall of famer in her heart.

Updated: August 11th, 2015 9:20pm

By: Daniel House

Jazzmyn Tingelhoff waited her entire life to hear two words — “he’s in.” A single text message in February capped a life-long wait for the 20-year-old granddaughter of former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff. Mick and his wife, Phyllis, were summoned to Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX. They waited in their hotel room as the Pro Football Hall of Fame committee deliberated the 2015 inductees. After a few hours, Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker knocked on the hotel room door. He was about to deliver the announcement Mick Tingelhoff awaited for almost 32 years — he was a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015. Back in Lakeville, Minnesota, Jazzmyn Tingelhoff was feverishly anticipating a phone call from her grandmother in Arizona. That phone call didn’t come, but a phone vibration did.

“We were going to get a phone call, but they were so busy, I got a text message that said, ‘he’s in,’” Jazzmyn Tingelhoff explained. “Those two words hit me and I broke down into tears. I didn’t know how to react. Those two simple words changed my life, as well as his.”

Jazzmyn grew up waiting for her grandfather to be enshrined with some of the greatest NFL players of all-time. She went to all of the events and listened to everyone tell her Mick should be in the hall of fame. Now, she can officially call her idol a hall of famer.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is, I’ve grown up in this world of [Mick] waiting. I was born into the world of him being a guy that should have been in the hall of fame. When I was six years old, he entered the Vikings Ring of Honor,” she recalled. “This has been a lifetime of me being told how good he is, and I know how good he is; I’ve seen clips and highlights of him play, so of course I agree, but for me and my dad, and everybody, my aunt, uncles, and cousins, for us — this was our life. So for us to be there this weekend was probably the biggest deal. It was the end of a race. There is no more awards he can win. He has won every award and this past weekend was an end to that and a conclusion to an amazing career for him.”

Jazzmyn spent the last six months making all the arrangements for Mick’s family to attend the August event in Canton, OH. With the help of her grandmother, Phyllis, she communicated and organized the trip for every member of her family. Mick’s three children and twelve grandchildren were on hand for all of the events. His siblings also came with their children and grandchildren. In fact, one of Mick’s sister’s arrived to the hall of fame with a bus full of 18 people.

“We picked who we invited to our personal party and then from there, our family picked which events we were going to. Who went to the gold jacket dinner, who went to the the fashion show on Friday, who went to the parade, who was in the parade versus who was watching, and who sat where for the enshrinement,” she said. “Stuff that you wouldn’t think needed to be planned, was kind of the stuff I did with my grandma. We really just did all of that and made sure everyone knew where they were going at all times and when we got there, we arranged transportation. Obviously this opportunity is never going to come around again, so we just tried to make the most of it and did what we could to make it enjoyable for him, as well as the family.”

This isn’t the first time Jazzmyn has been Mick’s right hand. She has helped with all of his events and signings since 2010. Mick has vested trust into his granddaughter to be one of his personal assistants.

“All of his signings and the events he has gone to since 2010, I’ve been there for all of that. I’m kind of his right hand when it comes to all of his stuff. He’s an extremely important person in my life, so I do everything I can to help him in whatever he’s doing. He’s just a huge part of my life,” she explained.

Nobody impacted Jazzmyn Tingelhoff more than her grandfather. His words of advice have molded her into the young woman she is today. Jazzmyn followed Mick’s example as she learned to become a hard working and humble person. She knew those were what made Mick Tingelhoff a hall of famer on and off-the-field.

“[Mick] made a huge impact on my life. You can see all that he has accomplished. He really taught us that you don’t need anybody to make you want to be the best. That comes from you. He wanted to be the best and he didn’t take no for answer. He went out there and got the job done. He not only taught me to go out there and get the job done and do it to the best of your ability, but to also be an incredibly humble person and to not knock people down on the way, but to bring people up, and support others,” she stated. “[Mick] was an incredible teammate and a great person to work with. He has impacted my life and taught me that in so many ways. He has taught me more about life than any person I could know. Whether that’s being a professional athlete or a person, he really an incredible person and he’s taught me so much.”

The man she idolizes so much finally got the honor he deserved on Saturday during the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony. Jazzymn calls the hall of fame weekend a moment she’ll remember forever. Whether it was the gold jacket dinner, the parade, the enshrinement, or the game, she will never forget the beaming smile that stretched across her grandfather’s face.

“I got to see him before he walked down at the gold jacket dinner and I loved watching him walk through that crowd of gold jacket people. I loved watching him wear that for the enshrinement. Just seeing him walk down, he had the biggest smile on his face,” she recalled. “Whether he was walking down, or sitting on the stage, or during the speaking, the smile on his face of knowing what he accomplished was my favorite moment. You saw that at every event he was at and just seeing him so happy and realizing he made it, is what made it the best for me.”

The Tingelhoff family arrived in Ohio on Wednesday and she toured the entire hall of fame with Mick by her side. They walked through the bust room and viewed all of Mick’s artifacts on display for the fans.

“We got to see all of Mick’s stuff and got a private tour. It was really cool to see,” she said.

Three days later, Mick Tingelhoff became forever imprinted into the hallows of the National Football League. Mick was introduced by his best friend and fellow Vikings hall of fame enshrinee Fran Tarkenton. Moments before the presentation, Mick decided he wanted to have Tarkenton speak to the audience on his behalf. During his career, Tinglehoff protected Tarkenton, but that night, Fran had his back. In a touching speech, Fran Tarkenton became emotional as he honored his former center.

"Mick's a man of few words, but he's a man of action. He waited 37 years to get to the Hall of Fame,” said Tarkenton as he fought back tears.

That entire moment was unscripted and that’s what made it so special for Jazzmyn Tingelhoff and her family. It was the epitome of true friendship.

“What you have to realize is — Fran didn’t have a speech. He wasn’t preparing to give this speech since we found out in January. It was an extremely, extremely, last minute decision. I think what made it more powerful was that it came from the heart. He didn’t sit there and write and rehearse what he was going to say. He really said what he felt and what was on his mind. I think that made it even more special for us, because he just said it how it was. Mick has kind of always had Fran’s back ever since the beginning, and that night, on that enshrinement stage, Fran had Mick’s back,” Jazzmyn explained. “I think it’s a testament to their friendship and bond for the past decades. You can see how close they were because I’ve known Fran forever and I’ve never seen him cry. I don’t think many people have seen Fran Tarkenton cry and for him to get choked up like that, that’s the moment right there. Everyone could see it and see how much it meant for Fran just for Mick to get in.”

Following the speech, Jazzmyn Tingelhoff went back stage to celebrate with her grandfather. While she spent time there, she rubbed elbows with some of the greatest players of all-time. Jazzmyn was truly overwhelmed by the support and welcome members of the hall of fame provided for Mick. The Vikings alumni group has always been a community for Mick, but now he has another place to call home.

“I went backstage after that speech and I sat with Mick and some incredible people were back there. I talked to Troy Aikman, Jim Kelly, and Peyton Manning. They are just so incredibly supportive of everyone entering the hall. They truly are a group of people that are so happy for each other and supportive of each other. Randall McDaniel, Carl Eller, Cris Carter, everyone in a gold jacket — they all went up to Mick and said congratulations, welcome to Canton,” she said.

“It’s so great because the Minnesota Vikings have always been a tight community of the alumni supporting one another and now Mick has entered another community where they can support him and want the best for him. It’s a great feeling knowing that he is the type of man that people would do that for. It makes me incredibly proud to be able to call myself his granddaughter. Not just because of the things he’s done on the field, but it’s mainly off-the-field when you see how much people care about him and what type of man he was that people would want the best for him. People campaigned for him for years and that’s truly a testament to him,” she added.

Mick Tingelhoff values his family, friends, and teammates and is loyal to all who cross his path. It’s a trait that Jazzmyn uses to be the humble person her grandfather wants her to be.

“I don’t know if people know how much of a family and friend oriented person he is. He would do absolutely anything for his family and friends. He is a funny person and is a very loyal person. He would do absolutely anything for the people around him. I think that’s a trait I know I have because I’ve seen him. I admire that so much about him,” she stated.

On Hall of Fame weekend, Jazzmyn Tingelhoff watched her life-long dream come true. It might have been long overdue, but that didn’t matter — Mick Tingelhoff has been and always will be a hall of famer in her heart.

1 comment: