Eagan, Minn. (November 11, 2023) – The Minnesota Vikings surprised former Equipment Manager Dennis Ryan, who retired in April 2023 after a 47-year tenure with the team, earlier today with the unveiling of the Dennis Ryan Equipment Room. The surprise took place at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center with Ryan, along with members of his family, Vikings Legends and staff members, present. Ryan will also serve as the Honorary Captain for Sunday’s game vs. New Orleans, where the team is hosting over 90 former players for Legends Weekend.
“It is such an incredible honor of ours to recognize Dennis Ryan and his family,” said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf. “For almost five decades, Dennis’ selfless approach brought immeasurable value to the team and made everyone around him better. No acknowledgment is truly enough to thank Dennis for his commitment to our organization but we are excited to unveil the Dennis Ryan Equipment Room and honor him at the game on Sunday.”
Additionally, the Vikings Values Award, an annual honor presented to the employee who best demonstrates the Vikings Values, will be renamed the Dennis Ryan Vikings Values Award beginning in 2024.
Ryan, who first became familiar with the Vikings as a 16-year-old grounds crew member at Saint Paul’s Midway Stadium, was recruited in 1975 by then-Vikings equipment manager Jim “Stubby” Eason to help load the Vikings locker room and transfer it to Mankato for the team’s annual training camp. Following two summers in that role, Ryan was hired as a full-time member of the Vikings equipment staff in 1977. Just four years later in 1981, Ryan became the youngest equipment manager in the NFL at just 21 years old and only the second to hold the job title in Vikings history.
Over his 47 years Ryan became a mainstay inside the Vikings, compiling a streak of 705 consecutive games from 1979 to 2021 before being forced to miss a contest due to Covid-19. He worked with nine of the Vikings 10 head coaches and saw games played in all of the team’s home stadiums (Metropolitan Stadium, Metrodome, TCF Bank Stadium and U.S. Bank Stadium). Ryan was a trusted confidant to thousands of Vikings players and coaches and was respected across the NFL as one of the hardest working people in sports. He designed the first eye shield to be worn by a player in an NFL game (1984) and twice received the Whitey Zimmerman Award, which recognizes the NFL’s Equipment Manager of the Year (1996 and 2017).
A lifetime resident of Saint Paul, Ryan attended the University of Minnesota (1978-79) and the University of St. Thomas (1980-81). He and his wife, Laura, have three children, Ben, Maureen and Annie, and continue to reside in Saint Paul. (From the Minnesota Vikings official release)