Sad news emerged from the world of sports this week when it was announced that Doug Sutherland, legendary defensive tackle for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, died Tuesday at the age of 73, as the Minnesota Star-Tribune reported.
The professional football standout rose to fame as part of the noted Purple People Eaters defensive line, and he ultimately appeared in 138 games, made 90 starts, and played in three Super Bowls as part of that team, according to ESPN.com.
Though he gained notoriety as Viking, Sutherland’s first season in the league was spent with the New Orleans Saints, and the trade that took him to Minnesota represented something of a sea-change for the player.
Speaking to the Minneapolis Tribune at the time, Sutherland mused, “Down there I had a pretty good chance to play quite a bit. Up here, I’m really going to have to hustle just to make the team. But to play here, I’m ready to hustle.”
Hustle he did, playing 10 seasons with the Vikings and moving into a defensive tackle role through which he ascended to Purple People Eaters status upon the retirement of team member Gary Larsen. Sutherland’s last NFL season was with the Seattle Seahawks during that team’s 1981 campaign.
Upon news of the former standout’s death, Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf declared, “Doug Sutherland was one of our proudest Legends. His humble nature did not allow for him to talk much about his own playing career, but Doug was a key member of some of the best defenses in NFL history and three Super Bowl teams.”
The Wilfs continued, “Doug was also the consummate teammate after football. He was one of the most active members of Vikings Legends events and didn’t miss a chance to help out at a community event or lend a hand where needed.”
Following his career on the gridiron, Sutherland moved into a career in real estate, and in 2010,he received the high honor of being named to the list of the 50 greatest Vikings players of all time.
Sutherland leaves not only friends and family to mourn his passing, but also legions of passionate football fans the world over who will never forget his exploits on the field as a member of one of the most renowned defensive lines the sport has ever seen.