The football world lost a legend on Monday, May 8, 2023, when Joe Kapp, the former quarterback who led the Minnesota Vikings to Super Bowl IV, passed away at the age of 85. Kapp had a remarkable career that spanned both the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the National Football League (NFL), as well as college football and coaching.
Kapp was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on March 19, 1938, to a Mexican-American mother and a German father. He grew up in California and played quarterback for Hart High School and then for the University of California, Berkeley. He led the Cal Golden Bears to a Pacific Coast Conference championship in 1958 and a Rose Bowl appearance against Iowa.
After being drafted by the Washington Redskins in the 18th round of the 1959 NFL draft, Kapp decided to play in the CFL instead. He joined the Calgary Stampeders in 1959 and then moved to the BC Lions in 1961. He won the Grey Cup with the Lions in 1964 and was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 1963. He also had his number 22 jersey retired by the Lions.
In 1967, Kapp returned to the NFL and signed with the Minnesota Vikings. He quickly became a fan favorite for his toughness, leadership and charisma. He led the Vikings to three consecutive division titles from 1968 to 1970 and to their first Super Bowl appearance in 1970, where they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs. Kapp still holds the NFL record for most touchdown passes in a game with seven, which he achieved against the Baltimore Colts in 1969. He also made the Pro Bowl that year.
Kapp played his final season with the Boston Patriots in 1970 before retiring from football. He later became the head coach of his alma mater Cal from 1982 to 1986 and was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 1982. He also served as the general manager and president of the BC Lions in 1990 and coached the Sacramento Attack of the Arena Football League in 1992.
Kapp was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, the BC Sports Hall of Fame, the College Football Hall of Fame and the University of California Athletic Hall of Fame. He was also voted to the Honour Roll of the CFL’s top 50 players of the modern era by TSN in 2006.
Kapp died on Monday in San Jose, California, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by his four children and seven grandchildren.