Joe Kapp was a quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings and in the Canadian Football League (CFL) in the 1950s and ‘60s.
Joe Kapp’s legacy
Kapp was an All-American when he played football at the University of California, Berkeley. He led the Golden Bears to the 1959 Rose Bowl and played on the school’s championship-winning basketball team. Kapp was part of the 1959 NFL Draft, but he ended up accepting an offer from the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders. He played with the Stampeders for two seasons before being traded to the BC Lions, leading them to two consecutive appearances in the Grey Cup, the CFL’s championship game. They won their second Grey Cup in 1964.
With his CFL victories, Kapp was in demand – when he decided to return to the NFL for the 1967 season, he was courted by several teams. He eventually signed with the Vikings, leading them to Super Bowl IV in his third NFL season. Though the Vikings lost that Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs, Kapp was named the team’s MVP. He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1970 with the headline “The Toughest Chicano.” Despite his postseason success and MVP award from the Vikings, Kapp was not signed to a fifth season with the team, and he played his final season with the Boston Patriots before his 1971 retirement.
After retiring from football, Kapp embarked on an acting career with small roles in TV shows, including “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Adam-12,” and “Police Woman.” He also appeared in such movies as “The Longest Yard” and “The Frisco Kid.” Later, Kapp coached at his alma mater, as well as for the Arena Football League’s Sacramento Attack, and he was general manager for the Lions. He was the only quarterback to have played in the Rose Bowl, the Super Bowl, and the Grey Cup.
“Always do your best. I got that from my mother. If you’re going to do something, do it as best as you can. She taught me that. If you’re going to go for it, go all out. It all starts with attitude. You’ve got to be very tough, very strong, and be as smart as you can possibly be and you’ll get somewhere.” —from a 2017 interview for ESPN
Tributes to Joe Kapp
Full obituary: Star Tribune