April 6, 2004
BERKELEY, CALIF.-Joe Kapp, the only person in sports history to quarterback teams to the Super Bowl, Rose Bowl and Grey Cup, has been elected into the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame, it was announced today.
Kapp, a first team All-American who directed the University of California to its last Rose Bowl appearance in 1959, was recently inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. Born in Santa Fe, N.M. and raised in Salinas, Calif., the 65-year-old football legend also is a member of the Latin America International Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame and the California Athletic Hall of Fame.
He becomes California's 21st member of the College Football Hall of Fame-15 players and six coaches- and the first Golden Bear to be elected since defensive lineman Ed White in 1999. Including the 12 new inductees announced today by the foundation, Cal now ranks 15th on the all-time list for schools with the most players in the Hall of Fame.
Kapp, who led British Columbia to Grey Cup berths in both 1963 and 1964, and guided Minnesota to Super Bowl IV in 1970, lettered three years in football (1956-58) and two seasons in basketball (1956-57) at Cal. As a senior in 1958, he spearheaded one of the most dramatic one-season turnarounds in college football history when he led Pete Elliott's team to a 7-3 regular season and the 1959 Rose Bowl after the Bears had posted a 1-9 mark the previous year. He finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting that season.
"It's been quite a couple weeks," said Kapp, who was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in San Francisco March 24. "None of this could have happened without the great support of Cal. These types of honors in a team sport like football really honors the team. I'm very thankful and I'm happy for our team."
While at Cal, Kapp also was a member of Pete Newell's 1957-58 Pacific Coast Conference basketball championship team. The 1959 Rose Bowl kept him off Newell's 1959 NCAA title club.
During his eight seasons in the Canadian Football League, he established himself as the second most productive passer in CFL history, completing 54.5 percent of his attempts for 22,175 yards and 137 touchdowns. Kapp won the league's MVP award in 1963 and led the Lions to the CFL championship the following season. He was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 1984.
He later played four seasons in the National Football League with the Minnesota Vikings. In 1968, he led the Vikings to their very first winning record and playoff appearance in franchise history. A year later, as Minnesota's team MVP, he steered the Vikings to their first-ever home playoff game victory over the favored Los Angeles Rams, then directed Bud Grant's club to a home win over favored Cleveland the next week to earn the team's first-ever appearance in a Super Bowl.
Later, Kapp returned to his alma mater to serve as Cal's head football coach from 1982-86, including a 7-4 season in his first year that won him Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors. He later was inducted into the university's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992.
But beyond the statistics, team championships and individual honors, Kapp was also one of the most charismatic and colorful sports figures in Bay Area history.
As Cal's head coach in 1982, his beloved Golden Bears executed "The Play," the five-lateral kickoff return that beat Stanford on the Big Game's final play. Considered one of the most memorable moments in sports history, Kapp responded after the game by simply saying, "The Bear will not quit, the Bear will not die!" And in his final game as Cal's head coach in 1986, his then 1-9 team made more Big Game history by defeating nationally No. 16-ranked Stanford, 17-11, in perhaps the biggest upset in the two school's storied rivalry.
In 1969, Kapp coined the phrase, "40 for 60" (40 players playing together for a full 60 minutes) in rallying his Vikings to a Super Bowl season. After the campaign, the emotional quarterback refused to accept the Vikings' team MVP award at the December banquet.
"I couldn't accept it!" he recently told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "I didn't want the honor. To me, it didn't tell the truth. Everyone on that team was most valuable."
Kapp-who recently was named to the governor's Physical Fitness Council in his home state of New Mexico-lives with his wife, Jennifer, his son Will, and daughters Emiliana and Gabriela, in Los Gatos, Calif., where he runs a successful business development company, Joe Kapp, Inc.
Last year, he also was named recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award for Sports Excellence from the National Council of La Raza, the largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States.