Defensive end Jim Marshall is more than the “wrong runner”

It’s not fair for a match to define an athlete’s career, but sometimes it happens. NFL fans will always remember Jim Marshall for “running the wrong way”, but his other achievements are far less embarrassing. The former Minnesota Viking is one of the best defensive linesmen of his era and has set multiple championship records. Like most football players, his body has suffered the consequences, but Marshall’s career is bigger than a mistake.

Few works are as stunning as Jim Marshall’s “wrong run”

The “wrong run” looks like something out of an inspirational sports movie about a bunch of shit heads who are completely hopeless on the pitch before Kevin Costner teaches them how to play as a team and live a better life – except Jim Marshall actually did. .

The game took place in the fourth quarter of a match between 3-3 Vikings and 2-4 San Francisco 49ers at the Niners’ first venue, Kezar Stadium. Marshall has already made his presence known by forcing a fumble that gave Minnesota a 27-17 lead. And he got involved in the game again when he recovered a fumble from 49ers running back Billy Kilmer.

Marshall picked up the ball and used his much publicized athleticism to run clean in the end zone. At the end of his 66-yard run, he threw the ball into the air in celebration. Then he realized he had done something inexplicable. And he was the last person in the stadium to notice it.

The then Vikings coach and now team historian Fred Zamberletti described the audience reaction as one of a kind in a Twincities.com retrospective to mark the show’s 50th anniversary. “It sounded like nothing I’ve ever heard in a stadium before,” said Zamberletti. “It was like hearing a bunch of bees.” Fortunately for Marshall, Minnesota won the game 27-22. But the shadow of that game remains with him.

But Marshall had a better career than that game suggests

Jim Marshall of the Vikings
Jim Marshall of the Minnesota Vikings in 1977 | Focus on Sports / Getty Images

It is impossible to forget such a strange work. But Marshall didn’t stay in the NFL for nearly two decades for no reason. After playing for the Cleveland Browns for a year, he was relocated to Minnesota before Vikings’ inaugural season in 1961. Marshall became one of the enduring figures of their greatest era.

After 18 years, he was the last player on the 1961 Minnesota initial expansion team to retire. Marshall won a championship, went to two Pro Bowls and formed a strong partnership with Alan Page, Gary Larsen and Carl Eller since the “Purple People Eaters” terrorized opposing offenders for most of the 1970s. It’s no coincidence that he was one of 11 players to appear in all four Vikings Super Bowl appearances in the 1970s.

Considering the brutality of the sport, Marshall’s ability to avoid serious injuries puts him in rare company. (Although he nearly died on a snowmobile trip in 1971.) He holds NFL records for the most complete seasons played by a defender (20), most consecutive games played by a defensive player (282), and most consecutive game starts with a defender (270).

Marshall also ranks second in Viking history for most quarterback sacks, behind Carl Eller. His legacy may not be known to everyone. But the franchise he called home understands its importance. Marshall number 70 is retired and occupies a place in the Vikings Ring of Honor.

How has his life been since he retired?

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All the injuries Marshall avoided during his playing days have caught him in retirement. He has undergone multiple back, neck eye and heart surgeries. Marshall realizes he is even luckier than some of his contemporaries.

He told the Minnesota Star Tribune, “My mind is sharp. I’ve had tears in my eyes with some of the guys I’ve played with. It’s devastating to be with a guy you joked with and played with, and now he doesn’t even recognize you. It’s tough, man. I feel very bad for their lives and very grateful for mine. “

Even after leaving the camp, Marshall remained in Minnesota. He and his wife Susan live in St. Louis Park and he still watches all the Vikings games. The franchise has fought hard to get Marshall into the Hall of Fame, but as of the time of writing, he is not yet there. The “wrong run” probably has a lot to do with his inability to enter, but that game shouldn’t cover the entirety of his exemplary time in the NFL.

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