On Jan. 12, 1975, the Minnesota Vikings lost Super Bowl IX, their third Super Bowl defeat in six seasons. That very day, Vikings fan Emmett John Pearson vowed not to shave his beard till the team broke through and won a title. He did just that for the next 38 years, his long, unruly white beard becoming his trademark. Pearson died Monday at the age of 83, his ability to keep a promise outlasted by the Vikings' capacity to disappoint their fans.
Pearson kept his beard through the Roger Staubach Hail Mary, Super Bowl XI, Les Steckel, Gary Anderson's missed field goal, Mike Tice, Tavaris Jackson, and Brett Favre's pick. His wife, Roseann, said he'd comb the beard when he'd have to look spiffy. Pearson once had to have surgery on an artery in his neck, but even then the doctors didn't shave it off.
Pearson's obituary says he lived in Vasa, about an hour southeast of Minneapolis, and that he spoke only Swedish until he was 6 years old. He was a farmer and longtime school board member. Roseann survived him along with five children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
In the video above, Pearson was interviewed by TV station KARE. The segment aired on Jan. 24, 2010, the same day the Vikings lost to the Saints in the NFC championship game. Pearson couldn't have known it at the time, but it would be his last best chance to see the Vikings win it all. He said in the interview he wouldn't let his wife wash the Favre jersey he was wearing, though it's not known for how long he kept that promise.