Our View, too: Put Haugsrud in the Hall of Fame

The Duluth News Tribune launched a campaign last weekend to get one of Duluth's most famous sons, Ole Haugsrud, into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for "saving the NFL." We agree.


The Duluth News Tribune launched a campaign last weekend to get one of Duluth's most famous sons, Ole Haugsrud, into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for "saving the NFL." We agree.

Haugsrud is now on the list of nominated "senior inductees," but folks can still mail in letters of support for Haugsrud.

"They can, at long last, honor Haugsrud. They can place him alongside the others who founded the NFL and who kept the pro game alive in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds," Tuesday's DNT noted dramatically.

Send letters to the attention of "selectors" or "nomination committee members" at Pro Football Hall of Fame, 2121 George Halas Drive NW, Canton, OH 44708.

From the Budgeteer archives


Editor's note: Former Budgeteer owner/publisher Dick Palmer wrote this profile of Ole Haugsrud in 1975.

He's 75 years young and still has plenty on the ball

Did you know Duluth once had a championship National League football team? It's true but that is not our story today. We merely want to set the stage for a basic fact, we are blessed with a fellow in our community who had guts, patience and a sincere desire to win a place in history for a roughneck game called professional football.

Hut one, hut two, ... hut seventy-five? Why not, 75 is a good, well-rounded diamond-jubilee number for a gem of a fellow we know named Ole Haugsrud, Mr. Football in the Twin Ports. At age 75, he is alive and still kicking (just a little pun here).

Ole was born on May 13, 1900 in Superior, Wisconsin. Dad was in the wholesale produce business and Ole, an only child, became involved with the business at an early age. He did go to school, attending Superior Erickson and Superior Central. At Central, he warmed the bench in football and basketball but that was because in those days, the competition at Central was something else indeed. They were state champions in football and basketball and their astute coach, Mr. Harold Stubbs, had another distinction, he invented the valve less football. Prior to that, you blew up the football like a balloon and tucked the end under the strings. So much for history in that department.

The benchwarmers at Superior Central wanted to play so Ole helped organize a sub team called the Red Devils and they took on that Central team in basketball and beat them soundly. Ole was not the star but he was there all the way and he finally got to rub elbows with a fellow named Ernie Nevers who later became an All-American football player at Stanford University and perhaps history's most outstanding professional football player but more importantly, a newfound friend, an inspiration to Ole.

While all this was going on, Ole had a Superior Evening Telegram newspaper route and developed up to 350 customers. He decided to sell it and whom do you think bought it? A young lad with ambition took over that route. His name was Ben Overman. We thought many of you would be interested in that vital statistic.

Following high school graduation in 1919, Ole attended Superior Normal School for just a short period because dad passed away and Ole had to return to the produce business on a fulltime basis. We forgot to mention that during the summer months, while in school, Ole was a seaman on the Great Lakes and elsewhere. He went to the West Indies three times, and South America once as a fireman and oiler.


Ole's tour of duty in the produce business lasted only a few months when the business was sold. He and a fellow named Engles started the wholesale notions business, which later consolidated with Duluth Paper and Specialties, thriving business today.

Ole worked at Duluth Paper and Specialties for about 4 or 5 years and then it happened, he kept his stock interest in the firm but he sort of retired into a whole new field, professional football. Many of you from Western Duluth remember Wally Gilbert, the Denfeld football ace. He and Dewey Scanlon, another West Duluth sand lot football giant, started the Kelly-Duluth professional football team and in 1924, won the national championship. The played, that year, the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears and Ole was the Secretary-Treasurer. A great honor and distinction for a Duluth team but the money simply wasn't there ands the players became disgusted and they gave the franchise to Ole for $1 in 1925.

Ole, his own professional football team owner, organized the Duluth Eskimos, got sanctioned by the National Football League and entered into the circuit with a former combatant of his, Ernie Nevers. Nevers signed on that year for $15,000 and a percentage of the purse. It was a great year, the team played 29 games, winning 19, losing 7 and tying 3. They were on the way except for one thing, the best place to play was at Green Bay but there was a sticker. Green Bay insisted that the Duluth Eskimos give the Packers one player each year for 3 years. Ole would lose his best players and so, in reflection, the Eskimos took a rest in 1927 and his players went to other teams to play.

The story of the Eskimos is exciting but too much to digest here. Ole Haugsrud was a determined man and he believed in professional football, more importantly, he believed in the men who participated and has been an inspiration to so many in the years that followed. The Eskimos were sold in 1929 and today, are really the fore runners of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Ole made a deal in 1929 when the Eskimos were sold. He insisted that if a Minnesota football franchise ever opened in the future, he wanted to become part of it and of course, he did in 1960 when the Minnesota Vikings were born. More on that later.

Ole and many of his players went to the Chicago Cardinals, Ole as a business associate with the team. Again, times were tough, the Depression was hitting everyone and Ole came back to Duluth in 1933 with a new dream, a CCC Canteen service for the many groups going up into northern Minnesota. His idea was to staff these stores with athletes who needed some help. The government went along with the CCC canteen idea but insisted that personnel for staffing would be selected by the government. Ole did hire some athletes as truck drivers, etc. His business flourished until 1965 when he sold his interest to Twin Ports Wholesale Grocers.

In 1937 Ole was blessed with a new lifetime companion, his lovely wife Margaret. The couple married and have been constant companions ever since, including the many trips with the Vikings. Margaret knows here football and don't you forget it.

While all this was going on, Ole never missed the annual National Football League meeting and when the time had come for Minnesota, he grabbed hold of Bernie Ridder, H. P. Skoglund, William Boyer and Max Winter and said, "hey, let's have a team meeting and discuss the possibility of starting a Minnesota team." Great was the response and in 1960, the Vikings were born and in 1961, their first year of play, they had a 9-9-1 record. This year (1975), says Ole, he expects the Viking to again be in the Super Bowl and this tine they are going to win.


We've skipped over a great deal here but how can you expound on such a gentleman without running out of newsprint?

Ole Haugsrud, while living in Superior, was a neighbor of Coach Bud Grant, a former Superior athlete. Ole called Coach Bernie Bierman one day and asked him to come up to Superior and take a look at Bud. Bernie did and Bud starred in football, basketball and baseball as a Minnesota Gopher.

Why do we love Ole? He is instrumental in helping kids with scholarships at UMD-Duluth and UWS-Superior. He was named to the Duluth Hall of Fame in 1961 and the Superior Hall of Fame in 1969. He helped organize the Duluth Quarterback Club, was named Optimist of the Year in 1963 and was named to the Duluth Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1969 and received a national award from the Council of Christians and Jews in 1973.

The year he has been nominated to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and will be considered soon by a panel of distinguished judges. He is also an active member of the Duluth Lions Club.

Ole Haugsrud, what else can we say?

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