1967 Ed Sharockman
(Game Worn)

When St. Clair High School senior Ed Sharockman completed his secondary school football career, he could have been satisfied that he had competed against some of the best high school players in the nation. Before Florida and California had the population explosions that brought the centers of the high school football universe to those two states, the debate raged between fans across the country whether it was Texas or Pennsylvania that produced the best of the best. With some giving the nod to Ohio as a worthy contender for the crown, it was specifically Western Pennsylvania and the coal mining areas that seemed to produce a preponderance of high school football greats. The 1956 Pennsylvania State Champions in their respective classifications were Ambridge, Braddock, Charleroi, Farrell, Jeannette, Sharon, and Williamsport with all but the latter located in the western Pennsylvania environs of St. Clair. Sharockman took a great deal of athletic ability to the University Of Pittsburgh, and matriculated to the varsity squad with future Hall Of Fame member Mike Ditka and a number of other outstanding players, most recruited in-state. Backing up starting quarterback Ivan Toncic, the 6’ 190 pound Sharockman produced a highlight reel fifty-yard touchdown scamper in a 25 -21 loss to Penn State. Despite the ability to play quarterback or either halfback position, Sharockman’s true talents were on the defensive side of the ball. With Ditka, who later of course was an All Pro tight end in his National Football League career, the two offensively skilled players formed a key part of what was a rock-‘em-sock-‘em defense in the company of what one publication called, “a roughneck group primarily from Western Pennsylvania.” Always available as a capable backup, Sharockman left the offensive glory to Toncic and the famous “C-Boys” backfield of fullback Jim Cunningham, and halfbacks Bob Clemens and  Fred Cox who would later join Sharockman on the Minnesota Vikings and become their famous kicker. Ed was “defense” with a capital D!

Drafted in the fifth round by the Vikings, Ed missed his rookie season of ’61 with a broken leg but returned with a vengeance, using 200 pounds of fury to lead the team in interceptions with six in 1962. By the time he had retired after the 1972 season, he had led the Vikings in interceptions for a franchise record four seasons (1962, 1963, 1965, and 1970). More impressively, until the moment he walked off of the field, he played every game in the same manner, described after the 1963 season as “gutty and durable.” His penchant for getting the most out of his abilities allowed him to pull down a career total of forty INT’s with a terrific 804 yards of run-back yardage. An important part of the great Vikings defenses that dominated the late 1960’s into the early ‘70’s, Ed Sharockman’s understated career was very much lost in the attention given to the “Purple People Eaters” and a linebacking group that received more acclaim than the secondary.




Ed Sharockman’s beautifully preserved RK helmet demonstrates the Vikings horn on each side, a standard two-bar mask, and a distinguishing U-bar that was utilized by almost none of the other Viking players. With many on the team switching to Dungard masks in the mid-to-late-‘60’s, Sharockman stood out on the field for his fiery and effective play, and this protective addition to his helmet. Very much like the Vikings teams that more or less snuck up on the rest of the NFL Western Division in a year-to-year ascension, Sharockman too seemed to improve until he became a solid, dependable long term member of one of the NFL’s all time great defenses.