Vikings retire Stringer's number
Team owner presents widow framed No. 77 jersey
Updated: Tuesday November 20, 2001 2:49 AM
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Vikings, the target of a planned wrongful-death lawsuit by Korey Stringer's family, retired the late offensive lineman's jersey Monday night in a halftime ceremony.
A 3-minute video tribute was shown on the scoreboard, and dozens of former Vikings -- including Carl Eller, Joey Browner and the recently retired Robert Smith -- stood in a semi-circle behind a platform as owner Red McCombs honored Stringer in a brief speech.
McCombs unveiled Stringer's No. 77 jersey in a large wooden frame and presented it to Stringer's widow, Kelci.
"Korey was loved by all Vikings," McCombs said. "He was the ultimate team player."
Wearing a black hat pulled low over her forehead, Kelci Stringer thanked McCombs for the jersey and the fans for their support. The 335-pound offensive tackle died Aug. 1 of heatstroke after collapsing during a training camp practice held in stifling heat and humidity.
"I'm sure Korey is looking down on all of us tonight with a big smile," she said. "Last but not least, I would like to thank every single fan here tonight and on TV. You are the reason Korey ... wanted to end his career here. I thank you."
The crowd of more than 64,000 then began chanting, "Korey! Korey!"
Before the game, players and coaches stood along the sidelines for a moment of silence. Kelci and their 3-year-old son, Kodie, helped unveil a banner bearing Stringer's name and picture hanging along the facade between the upper and lower decks.
The Vikings' "Ring of Honor" also includes former players Ron Yary, Alan Page, Jim Marshall, Fran Tarkenton, Paul Krause, head coach Bud Grant and general manager Jim Finks.
Stringer's agent, James Gould, and two Ohio-based personal injury attorneys, Stanley Chesley and Paul DeMarco, said earlier this month that they plan to file a lawsuit of more than $100 million on behalf of the Stringer family against the Vikings for their role in the 27-year-old's death.
The family felt the team's medical staff could've done more to save Stringer from collapsing and was disappointed in what it felt was a cold response from the team in the months after. Gould and the two lawyers directed several critical comments toward the Vikings and McCombs at a news conference this month.
"Mr. McCombs dropped the ball big time, and that's just not right," Gould said. "They've done nothing. We feel totally taken advantage of."
McCombs has not commented publicly on the lawsuit, only issuing this brief statement the day the family announced the lawsuit: "We are disappointed that the Stringers have elected to file suit. Our entire organization loved Korey as a person and a player. We continue to regard Kelci and Kodie as part of our Vikings family."
Defensive linemen Page and Marshall -- part of the famed Purple People Eaters front four of the 1970s -- and quarterback Tarkenton are the other Vikings to have their jerseys retired. Offensive lineman Mick Tingelhoff's number will be retired during Minnesota's game Sunday night against Chicago.