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Former UND, Vikings star Dave Osborn stays young by working out and hunting

Shawn Horn shows Dave Osborn a poster from his playing days with the Minnesota Vikings during an event Wednesday at the UND Gorecki Alumni Center. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald1 / 2
Former Minnesota Viking great and UND alum Dave Osborn and UND football coach Bubba Schweigert compare notes during an event Wednesday at the Gorecki Alumni Center. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald2 / 2

As former UND football star Dave Osborn describes what he likes to do best in his retirement years, you certainly don't picture a 75-year-old with two artificial knees who endured a 12-year NFL career.

"I work out every day," Osborn said. "I never miss a day. Seven days a week I walk four or five miles. I'm not supposed to run with these knees. I try to stay in shape and exercise. Hopefully, that keeps you young."

An energetic and engaging Osborn, who played for 11 years with the Minnesota Vikings, was back in Grand Forks on Wednesday night to speak at a North Dakota Farmers Union event at UND's Gorecki Center.

Osborn, whose No. 41 is the only number retired by the UND football program, posed for pictures, signed autographs and even reunited with a former UND teammate.

After the event Wednesday night, Osborn was headed back to his hometown of Cando, N.D., where he said he often returns to go duck hunting.

But Osborn, who now lives in Lakeville, Minn., made the most of his stop in Grand Forks, checking out UND's Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Osborn lived at SAE when he attended UND and his grandson is a senior in the fraternity now.

"It's always fun to get to the old stomping grounds," he said. "UND was a lot different when I was here. There was nothing on this side of the coulee but an airport."

UND football coach Bubba Schweigert was in attendance at the event and chatted with Osborn.

Osborn said he still keeps tabs on how UND football is doing, adding it's tough to call the team the Fighting Hawks after playing as a Fighting Sioux.

"I think Bubba is a great coach, and they have a good staff," Osborn said. "They're on the right track."

Although the game looks drastically different than it did in his era, Osborn said he still enjoys the sport but he prefers his era.

"In my day, you won games running the ball," Osborn said. "You tried to run the clock out. You got 2, 3 yards at a time. Now, it's a passing game. Today, running backs aren't as important as they used to be. You win by throwing the ball now.

"In our day, you got up 10-nothing and you worked the clock. We won a lot of games 7-3, 6-3, 10-7. That was the way the game was played. I was a running back, and I like to watch teams run the ball."

Osborn was a standout for UND in the 1960s, earning all-North Central Conference honors as a senior in 1964 as the team finished with an 8-1 overall record and a share of the NCC title.

He went on to play running back and fullback for the Vikings, earning a 1970 Pro Bowl selection. He also played one season with the Green Bay Packers. Osborn ran for more than 4,000 yards and scored 29 touchdowns in his NFL career.

"When I played, it was (Vikings running back) Bill Brown and I and we started together and played every play for eight straight years," Osborn said. "We played the whole game. We'd get 2, 3, 6 yards. Neither of us got long runs, sometimes 15 yarders, but we basically controlled the ball.

"Joe Kapp was our quarterback for that first Super Bowl. He wasn't the greatest as far as throwing, but he was a winner."

Osborn's Vikings teams were coached by legendary Minnesota coach Bud Grant, who Osborn has hunted with in Cando.

"He's 91 and still likes to hunt ducks and geese," Osborn said. "You'd think at 91 he'd be slowing down, but he still likes to go hunting in North Dakota and South Dakota."

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department since 2004. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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