Randy Moss, one of the most prolific and popular athletes in Minnesota history, could not attend the ceremony but offered a video message of thanks. "I want to thank the Star Tribune for inducting me into the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame," he said. "I want to send a shout out to all the fans and I want to send a shout out to all my classmates inducted in with me."
Legendary Edina hockey coach Willard Ikola, who won 616 games and became synonymous with the state tournament, was a grateful recipient of the honor — though Ikola, 87, wasn't wearing his trademark houndstooth hat. "We had great parents and a great feeder system," Ikola said of the secret of success. "We took the cream off the top, so to speak, and came up with some pretty good teams."
Jim Gagliardi accepted the honor on behalf of his father, John Gagliardi, the legendary St. John's football coach who died in 2018 after amassing 489 victories — the most in college football history. Said Jim Gagliardi, who also played for and coached with his dad: "What made John John was the absolute fear of losing."
Randall McDaniel, a Pro Football Hall of Famer and one of the greatest Vikings in team history, also happens to be one of the nicest people you will ever meet. "I came into a group that was all veteran linemen," McDaniel said of his start with the Vikings. "And they would tell me, you're going to do it our way until you can do it better. ... That mentality and that group. You learned from those guys."
Former Vikings defensive lineman John Randle told great stories with fellow inductee Randall McDaniel and was greeted enthusiastically by Lindsay Whalen — a huge Vikings fan in addition to being another inductee. Said Randle: "I believe that I was meant to play football. I believed that my whole life. ... I came to a place that was so cold, but so many people had warm hearts."
Lindsay Whalen was an easy choice for this honor after leading the Gophers to the Final Four as a player, winning multiple gold medals with Team USA and earning four WNBA titles with the Lynx. "That's why nights like this are special. It's been a lot of nights and a lot of years," said Whalen, now the coach of the Gophers. "I just want to keep doing whatever I can to elevate our state and our programs."