ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Tommy Kramer, who played in first Vikings game in London, watches this one with fans at a Wisconsin bar

Kramer was the starting quarterback for the Vikings when they played the first NFL game in London, a 28-10 preseason win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug 6, 1983. He threw the first touchdown pass ever in the United Kingdom, hitting running back Ted Brown in the second quarter from nine yards out.

SPORTS-TOMMY-KRAMER-WHO-PLAYED-FIRST-1-SP.jpg
Former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer autographs a dollar bill for Vikings fan Carol Gilbertson, of Beldenville, Wisconsin, on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. Kramer watched with fans as the Vikings defeated the New Orleans Saints 28-25 in London at Lucille's restaurant in Prescott, Wisconsin.
Chris Tomasson / St. Paul Pioneer Press
We are part of The Trust Project.

PRESCOTT, Wis. — The Minnesota Vikings won Sunday, and the beer was cold. What more could Tommy Kramer have wanted?

The former Vikings quarterback watched Minnesota’s 28-25 victory over the New Orleans Saints with fans at Lucille’s restaurant in Prescott. And with the game played in London, Kramer had a connection to that.

Kramer was the starting quarterback for the Vikings when they played the first NFL game in London, a 28-10 preseason win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug 6, 1983. He threw the first touchdown pass ever in the United Kingdom, hitting running back Ted Brown in the second quarter from nine yards out.

But what happened in the game isn’t what Kramer recalls most about that pioneering trip four decades ago.

“I remember they didn’t have cold beer then in London. It was room-temperature beer,” Kramer said. “So I put ice cubes in my beer, and that worked out just fine.”

ADVERTISEMENT

On Sunday, Kramer watched the game while enjoying cold bottles of Miller Lite. He mingled with fans, signed autographs and cheered on the Vikings.

“I predicted it was going to be 27-24, Vikings,” said Kramer, who played for Minnesota from 1977-89 and finished his NFL career with one game for the Saints in 1990. “Right when I came in here, I told a guy, ‘It’s going to be 27-24.’ It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win. That’s all that matters.”

The game started at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at 8:30 a.m., not exactly your typical opening time for a bar on Sunday, even in Wisconsin. But Lucille’s made arrangements for Kramer to come in, opened more than 2½ hours before their normal time of 11 a.m., and a buffet breakfast was served along with entry for $25.

Attendance wasn’t great, with only 13 paid entrants. Along with those accompanying Kramer, there were more than 20 people on hand.

Also at the restaurant was Ed McDaniel, a Vikings linebacker from 1992-2001 who travels regularly with Kramer when they go to bars and restaurants all over Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota for appearances. They travel in a custom purple limousine that features Longhorn steer horns on the front to honor Kramer, a native Texan, and an exterior adorned with the names of great former Vikings players.

The mood Sunday was festive, especially when the Vikings pulled out a dramatic victory when Wil Lutz’s 61-yard field-goal attempt on the final play bounced off the left upright and then the crossbar. And Kramer was happy to sign anything he was presented.

Carol Gilbertson, 75, of Beldenville, Wis., and Marlene Schmotzer, 77, of Red Wing, Minn., both had Kramer sign dollar bills. The idea came from Gilbertson.

“I have a dollar bill that was signed by (former Green Bay Packers quarterback) Bart Starr back in the ‘70s, so I thought, ‘Why not?’ ” said Gilbertson, a longtime Vikings fan. “I didn’t think of the dollar bill until I got here, and I had a couple of dollar bills.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Gilbertson said she doesn’t have a Kramer No. 9 jersey, but she has a Chuck Foreman No. 44 jersey she bought in the 1970s. She wore that Sunday even as she joked it “fit a little better in the ‘70s.”

MORE MINNESOTA VIKINGS COVERAGE:
Pro
Since the trophy was 1st awarded in 1957, no receiver has ever won
Pro
What started as a lighthearted joke on national television has since taken on a life of its own
Pro
To do that, the Vikings need to beat the New York Jets at home on Sunday, and they need the Detroit Lions to lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars at home.
Pro
The rookie cornerback had surgery to repair a meniscus on Monday.
Pro
Kevin O’Connell empowers Cousins on a daily basis and the results speak for themselves.
Pro
Tight end was acquired in a trade with Detroit on Nov. 1
Pro
7-year-old Vikings fan geared up with chains for Thanksgiving game
Pro
Minnesota aims to put last week's loss behind them against a team they haven't beaten in 22 years.
Pro
The Patriots selected O’Connell in the third round of the 2008 NFL draft out of San Diego State.
Pro
If neither can play, Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said Duke Shelley would start Thursday against New England.

Longtime Vikings fan Rob Kammerer sipped a Blue Moon while chatting with Kramer. He figured the early start likely muted attendance at bars and restaurants to watch the game.

“I usually don’t drink this early,” admitted Kammerer, 39, of Prescott. “But this is an exception. When in Rome.”

As the game went along, Kramer offered thoughts on the action. And he looked back to the days when he traveled to London with the Vikings in 1983.

Kramer was glad he didn’t go over for a regular-season game. After all, that would have cut into time spent in the pubs.

“Watching this game makes you think of London,” Kramer said. “Even though we had to put ice in our beer, we did a lot of partying over there.”

ADVERTISEMENT

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA VIKINGS
What to read next
Pro
The rookie learned he would be making his 1st NBA start just before tipoff against Memphis
Pro
New-look women’s hockey team is host to the Metropolitan Riveters on Saturday
Pro
3 events will be part of the team’s 1st in-person fan event in 3 years
Pro
It’s unclear how much time Brodin will miss with the lower-body injury