The Minnesota Vikings‘ 43-year mission of getting Jim Marshall into the Pro Football Hall of Fame has been given new life.
After years of campaigning for Marshall, a member of the Purple People Eaters who has fallen short of induction numerous times since he retired in 1979, the Vikings had three players selected as senior semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on July 8 — Roger Craig, Chris Hinton and, most notably, Marshall.
But this time around, Marshall and the other 24 senior semifinalists have a significantly better chance at being enshrined after a recent rule change — allowing up to three senior candidates (any player who is at least 25 years past their retirement) to be inducted per class for the next three years. Before, the committee only allowed one senior inductee in the past nine election cycles.
Under the expansion, the upcoming class could have up to nine inductees — five modern players, three seniors and one coach/contributor.
That gives Marshall, 84, a better shot at finally being inducted to the Hall of Fame after years of his Vikings contemporaries going to bat for his candidacy, including Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant.
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Bud Grant: ‘It’s One of the Big Injustices in Football’
Marshall is one of 11 Vikings players who played in four of the first 11 Super Bowls. His 127 sacks rank second in franchise history behind only Carl Eller (130), who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. Marshall’s 29 opponent fumble recoveries are tied with Jason Taylor for most in NFL history. He also never missed a game from 1960 to 1979, playing in 282 consecutive games — a record that stood three decades until Brett Favre broke it with the Vikings in 2009.
Grant said if one player epitomized the Vikings’ history, especially the Purple People Eaters era, it’s Marshall.
“For me, it’s Jim Marshall,” Grant told the Star Tribune in 2017. “There’s a picture of him that I have that says it all. He’s standing on the football field. Everything’s all muddy. It’s snowing. And Jim’s got that look. He represented the Vikings better than any player we’ve ever had. He and Mick [Tingelhoff]. The absolute cornerstone of the Minnesota Vikings. That’s Jim Marshall.”
Even after Tingelhoff was inducted 37 years after his retirement in 2015, Grant considers the Purple People Eaters’ legacy uncemented until Marshall sees the same respect.
“It’s one of the big injustices in football,” Grant said. “It’s a problem that needs fixing.”
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Marshall Unbothered by HOF
Despite the ups and downs of his Hall of Fame candidacy over the years, Marshall has remained cut and dry about his stature in the league.
“If I had the credentials to get in the hall of fame, then I should be in there,” he told the Pioneer Press in 2019. “If somehow they deem that I don’t have the criteria, that I don’t meet the criteria that the hall of fame has set, then I don’t belong in there.”
While Marshall appears unbothered by his lengthy candidacy, he acknowledged a transformation that happened to Eller after his enshrinement and admitted it’d mean plenty to him.
“I know it changed Carl Eller’s life when he went in,” Marshall told the Star Tribune in 2017. “He seemed like a different person after he went in. I can’t figure out how in the world it would change my life other than it would be good for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to see. But it definitely would be a good thing and, surely, I would faint.”