Joseph Robert Kapp, famously known as Joe Kapp, was an American football player, coach, and executive.
He played college football as a quarterback at the University of California, Berkeley and later went on to become the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.
In 1938, Florencia Eufracia Garcia gave birth to him in Salinas. She was a Mexican-American coffee shop waitress who he fondly referred to as ‘The Toughest Chicana.’
Kapp’s parents were both immigrants from Mexico who had moved to California in search of better opportunities.
They worked hard to provide for their family and instilled strong values in their children.
From an early age, Kapp was determined to make something of himself and his parents supported him every step of the way.
He went on to play college football at UC Berkeley where he earned All-American honors and led his team to victory in the 1959 Rose Bowl game.
After college, Kapp joined the Canadian Football League (CFL), where he won two Grey Cup championships with the British Columbia Lions before moving back to the United States and joining the National Football League (NFL).
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In 1969, he became the first Latino quarterback ever to lead a team into a Super Bowl game when he took his Minnesota Vikings team all the way to Super Bowl IV against Kansas City Chiefs.
Kapp retired from professional football in 1975 but continued coaching for several years afterward. He also dabbled in acting during this time, appearing in films like Two-Minute Warning, The Frisco Kid and The Longest Yard.
After retiring from coaching in 1988, Kapp returned home to Los Gatos where he lived with his wife Jennifer (Adams) until his death at 85 years old on May 8th, 2023.
The Joe Kapp family includes his wife Jennifer (Adams), daughters Emiliana and Gabriela, sons J.J. and Will, as well as six grandchildren, including Will Kapp, a former fullback at Los Gatos High School who graduated from Cal after suffering three concussions.
Joe Kapp was an incredible athlete and an inspiring family man who dedicated much of his life to helping others achieve success just like him.
He gave talks once a year at El Sausal Middle School about perseverance, inspiring many students over the years, including future NFL players like Vince Ferragamo, who attended one of these talks when he was just 12.
Kapps’ legacy lives on through his children, who continue to honor him by carrying out philanthropic work such as fundraising for scholarships or donating funds towards building sports fields or other facilities that will help young people reach their full potential, just like Joe did when he was younger.
Family Background and Early Life
Joe Kapp had three siblings and grew up in a tight-knit family in California.
His parents instilled values of hard work, determination, and perseverance in their children from an early age.
Kapp’s mother worked as a waitress, while his father worked as a laborer before becoming a truck driver.
Joe Kapp had several notable achievements during his career, including leading the Minnesota Vikings to a Super Bowl appearance and winning two Grey Cup championships in the CFL.
He was also a thrice-named All-Star in the CFL and an All-American at UC Berkeley.
Besides his focus on sports, Joe Kapp was also actively involved in philanthropic work throughout his life.
Along with his family, he established the Kapp Family Foundation, which aims to support education and sports programs for young people in underprivileged areas.
Family Impact on Career
Joe Kapp’s parents played a crucial role in his life, providing him with the necessary motivation and encouragement to pursue his passions.
However, Kapp’s family also experienced some significant challenges, including his brother’s untimely death in a car accident and his sister’s struggles with multiple sclerosis.
These events undoubtedly affected Kapp’s career and influenced his philanthropic work.
One of the most significant events in Joe Kapp’s life was his time playing in the 1959 Rose Bowl game, where he led UC Berkeley to victory over the University of Iowa. This victory earned him the prestigious MVP award and put his name in the history books forever.
Joe Kapp’s life and career were marked by several remarkable achievements. Still, it was his family’s support and the challenges they faced that shaped him into the inspiring figure that many admire today.
Young athletes and philanthropists alike continue to draw inspiration from his legacy. The impact he made on the world of sports and beyond will remain unforgettable.