History: Rich Karlis Prank

Viking Update: The Get Rich Karlis Plot

The Get Rich Karlis Plot

All too often as fans, we forget that those who readily done purple armor and seek out the enemy to defeat each Sunday, are not just our purple warriors, they moonlight as people just like you and me. They lead a second life. Its a life that fans don't see that often or even consider, but it involves sons, daughters, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and in-laws. But there is one family member not in that list that caused former Viking Rich Karlis some anguish. His wife.

As a kicker with the Vikings, Rich Karlis' job was to kick footballs over the goal post crossbar, but found himself in a peculiar position one afternoon - dangling upside down from under it, just like a prize Marlin from a successful fishing trip. He didn't commit any crime such as missing a crucial field goal in an important game or anything remotely like that. Instead, he was being punished for something his wife had said.

It was a valuable lesson in football manners for Karlis. At all costs, avoid saying nasty things about those 300-pound offensive linemen who protect your scrawny body (relatively speaking of course). Better yet, don't let your darling wife do something utterly foolish — like calling those 300-pound offensive linemen a bunch of slobs, even if they are a bunch of slobs.

Here's what happened. Rich's wife, Dena, committed the faux pas of telling her friends that the offensive linemen were becoming a bad influence on her husband. "Since he started hanging out with gorillas," she said, "Rich had let his personal grooming slide and wasn't dressing as neatly as before."

Since Dena's friends were also the wives of other Vikings players, word of the accusation quickly reached Rich's teammates. Tackle Gary Zimmerman, complained "She said we were slobs."

On October 23, 1989, after a few days had passed since Dena had made the doomed comment, Karlis showed up at the teams scheduled practice as he had done so many times before without worry.

The offensive linemen were waiting, including Karlis' own brother-in-law, Kirk Lowdermilk who towered at 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds. Not only was he Karlis' relative and the Vikings' primary center, but he was also the chief organizer of the "Get Karlis" plot.

The monstrous linemen captured the 180-pound target, bound his hands and feet with tape, stuck a gag in his mouth, and blindfolded him. Then the pigskin posse tossed a rope over the crossbar of the goal post, strung up the varmint by his feet, and pinned a sign to his jersey that said, "Wife talked about offensive line."

The hapless Karlis dangled in the cool summer breeze while an accomplice scooted off to snatch the team photographer. As if they had just been deep open sea fishing, and had hauled in the day's prize Marlin, the linemen proudly posed for several pictures with their catch before having pity and letting him go.

Kirk Lowdermilk explained, "We figured he was too scrawny to keep."

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