Reusse: Do Vikings fans need this? NFL relives Hail Mary — and kick that followed

The belief in the Vikings’ invincibility from Minnesota fans that existed before the 1970 Super Bowl had waned. That upset shellacking from Kansas City had been followed by back-to-back Super Bowl losses to Miami and Pittsburgh in Januarys in 1974 and 1975.

Thus, there was desperation to make it happen in the season of 1975, as the Vikings won their first 10 on the way to 12-2.

It was a team we thought might’ve been the Purple’s best, as it met the talented Cowboys on Dec. 28, 1975, in a playoff opener at Met Stadium.

It was a tense, nasty contest, and finally the Vikings were ahead 14-10, with Dallas deep in its territory and time running out.

On fourth-and-17, quarterback Roger Staubach needed maximum protection, so he sent just Drew Pearson on a post-corner route to the right sideline near midfield.

Dick Jonckowski had been stationed there as a security guard since 1962 — a sideline showman in an overdone Sims uniform that was remindful of Robert Preston in “The Music Man.”

As for when Pearson caught the pass and came sliding out of bounds, Jonckowski relayed this remembrance on Friday:

Jack Whitaker, from CBS, standing there for TV coverage duties, said to him, “That’s an out-of-bounds catch. That pass should be incomplete.”

With that, Jonckowski took a disgusted kick, and he struck Pearson’s foot.

“Drew asked me again this week, ‘Was there malice?’ ” Jonckowski said. “I said, ‘No, I was just mad, and you slid into it.’ “

Two plays later became more infamous for the Cowboys: Staubach hit Pearson with football’s first official “Hail Mary.” Drew zipped into the end zone as the Vikings claimed push-off against a prone cornerback, Nate Wright.

What followed on this day of incredible melodrama was official Armen Terzian having his head cut open by a Corby’s whiskey bottle thrown from the right-field bleachers. And then, postgame, Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton finding out on TV that his father, named Dallas, had died while watching the game at his home.

This also happened: Alicia Landry, wife of Dallas coach Tom Landry, and attendee of all her husband’s games, noticed from the stands that Jonckowski had “taken a kick” at Pearson.

Mrs. Landry went right to the top. She called Commissioner Pete Rozelle to rat out Jonckowski. And then the NFL office and the Vikings notified Bob Sims at the security firm that Jonckowski in the future was banned from the sideline.

“I didn’t lose the job, but I was supposed to stay in the dugout,” Jonckowski, 78, said Friday. “I’d sneak out once in a while, but it was no fun anymore. I quit in 1978.”

Jonckowski’s first renown as a local entertainer — he’s been the “Polish Eagle,” emcee, comedy guest, purveyor of every Henny Youngman joke ever told, for over 40 years — had been as the field-goal-catching usher at Met Stadium.

“I caught well over 100 field goals, including all six by Garo Yepremian when he set the NFL record,” Jonckowski said. “I also caught numerous stray passes out of bounds. I would catch those and throw the ball behind my back to the ref. I was the famous hot dog security guard.”

Until the kick.

Dallas opened the season in 1977 at Met Stadium. “Roger Staubach saw me and said, ‘Hey, say something to Drew; make up to him,’ ” Jonckowski said. “I did that. We were good after that, even though in Drew’s book and in some articles he overplays it as a serious kick.

“In 2013, he was here for a card show at Valley West Shopping Center. I got out my old Sims uniform, with the hat. When he pulled up, I opened the door and said, ‘Mr. Pearson, I’m here to provide you with security.’

“He cussed at me and howled with laughter. Then, he laid down on the floor inside, and we pantomimed the kick. He’s a really good guy.”

A while back, Jonckowski received a call from NFL Films with a request: Pearson would fly into the Twin Cities and they would tape a meeting of the pair at Jonckowski’s house.

That happened last Monday in Shakopee. “Drew was here a couple of hours, but NFL Films was at the house for nine hours,” Jonckowski said. “It’s something for ‘A Football Life.’

“We had such a good time talking about that game, about everything, that Drew wanted me to fly to Dallas to be on the ‘Drew Pearson Podcast’ on Wednesday.”

Jonckowski, dealing with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for the third time, had a chemotherapy session and had to decline.

“I’m feeling fine, but I can’t skip one of those,” he said. “So I’m going to be on through Zoom, however that works.”

NFL Films found and brought along quite a bit of film (now on video) of Jonckowski’s antics as the Security Showman of the Met sideline.

The kick was included, of course.

“It’s a very wimpy kick,” Jonckowski said. “That Mrs. Landry must’ve had sharp eyes.”

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