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Before addressing the serious matters of running the NFL, Commissioner Roger Goodell took a moment at his annual state of the NFL news conference Wednesday at the Minneapolis Hilton to acknowledge a 97-year-old sports columnist seated in the second row.

Yes, the Star Tribune’s Sid Hartman.

“The Super Bowl is back in Minnesota for first time in 26 years. There have been plenty of improvements to the state, the NFL and the Super Bowl since then. But a couple of things haven’t changed,’’ Goodell said as he began his remarks. “We have Sid Hartman here, who was only 71 years old the last time the Super Bowl was played here in Minnesota. And he’s here today and still going strong at the very young age of 97. Sid, we congratulate you on your remarkable career and thank you for all you’ve done and look forward to your radio show and columns for years to come.”

Hartman received warm applause from the assembled media and guests, and then took the microphone to ask Goodell about what the Super Bowl atmosphere would have been like if only the Vikings were playing.