Joe Kapp, the tough quarterback who led the Minnesota Vikings to their first Super Bowl and California to its last Rose Bowl, has died. He was 85.
Cal confirmed that Kapp died on Monday. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
After a stellar collegiate career at Cal in the 1950s that was capped by an appearance in the 1959 Rose Bowl, Kapp went on to star in Canada before making it to the NFL. He took over for Fran Tarkenton in Minnesota and led the Vikings to a Super Bowl appearance in the 1969 season before losing to Kansas City.
Kapp is the only quarterback to lead his team to a Rose Bowl, Grey Cup and Super Bowl.
Kapp also later coached his alma mater for five seasons and was on the sideline for one of the most memorable plays in school history when the Golden Bears returned a kickoff with five laterals to beat rival Stanford on the final play in 1982, scoring the TD with the Cardinal band on the field.
Kapp helped lead Cal to the Pacific Coast Conference title in 1958 and a trip to the Rose Bowl, where the Bears lost to Iowa.
When he was hired to coach at Cal before the 1982 season, he vowed not to drink his favorite alcoholic beverage tequila until the Bears made another appearance in the storied bowl game. They never made it back in his lifetime.
Kapp spent his first eight seasons in the CFL with Calgary and the BC Lions. He took the Stampeders to the playoffs in his second season and led the Lions to back-to-back Grey Cup appearances, winning it all in his second try in 1964.
“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,” the BC Lions said in a statement.
He then went to the NFL in 1967 as part of a complicated trade between teams in different leagues and replaced Tarkenton, who had been traded by Minnesota to the New York Giants.
Kapp helped the Vikings make the playoffs before losing to Baltimore in 1968 and then threw 19 TD passes and led Minnesota to a 12-2 record the following year when he finished second in MVP voting.
He ran and threw a TD pass against Cleveland to lead Minnesota to a 27-7 victory in the 1969 NFL title game. The Vikings then lost the last Super Bowl before the merger to Kansas City.
Kapp left as a free agent the following season and played briefly for the Patriots in 1970. He refused to sign with the team after New England drafted Jim Plunkett first overall in 1971 and never played again.
He filed an antitrust suit against the league that he eventually lost.
Kapp had a 20-34-1 record in five years as coach at Cal from 1982-86.