Paralyzed former Viking Kassulke dies from a heart attack

Updated: October 28, 2008, 7:24 PM ET
Associated Press

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Karl Kassulke, a former Pro Bowl safety with the Minnesota Vikings whose career ended when he was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident, has died from a heart attack, the team confirmed on Tuesday. He was 67.

Kassulke died in his Eagan home on Sunday. He spent all 10 years of his career with the Vikings from 1963-72. Considered one of the hardest-hitting defensive backs in franchise history, Kassulke started in the 1970 Super Bowl loss to Kansas City and was named to the Pro Bowl the following season.

"He would come up on you no matter who you were and clean your clock," said former defensive end Jim Marshall, one of the famed Purple People Eaters. "He would hit anytime and anywhere. He was without fear as a player."

But the popular player's career was cut short just before training camp in 1973 when he was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident that left him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. His wife, Sue, was a nurse who helped him through his rehab, and he was married to her for 33 years.

Kassulke is survived by his wife, their son Chris, two older sons, Kurt and Kory, and three grandchildren.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press