Jim Marshall Is One Of 25 Senior Semifinalists For Hall Of Fame

Jan 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; A general view of U.S. Bank Stadium before the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its 54 semifinalists for the Class of 2023. 25 of these semifinalists are players who played their final NFL game no later than the 1996 season. Among the 25 was Jim Marshall, the former Minnesota Vikings defensive end who started 270 consecutive games during his career.

For years, fans have clamored for Marshall to be inducted into the Hall. Two fellow defensive linemen, Carl Eller and defensive tackle Alan Page, have already been inducted. But out of all of them, it was Marshall who was looked at as the leader of the unit known as the “Purple People Eaters”.

Some may look at Marshall’s stats and dismiss his Hall of Fame status due to a lack of truly dominant seasons. He only eclipsed ten sacks in a season four times, and none of those seasons came in the second half of his career (you can read more Marshall stats on PFR). Marshall also only received two Pro Bowl nods, each coming after the 1968 and 1969 seasons.

However, the lack of national accolades could be attributed to his “wrong way run” in a 1964 contest against the San Francisco 49ers. Marshall had picked up a fumble, but got lost where he was on the field, and ran 66 yards in the direction of his own endzone. He thought he had scored a touchdown, but the play resulted in a safety. The play has become one of the biggest follies in league history, even ranking No. 54 in the NFL’s 100 Greatest Plays in 2019. Some believe that this play unfairly stained his otherwise stellar career.

But Marshall’s career was remarkably steady. He recorded at least six sacks each season from 1961-73, and his 30 fumble recoveries are an NFL-record for non-quarterbacks. And as reliable as snow in January, Marshall never missed a game for the Vikings, starting all 16 games in his final season at the age of 42.

Unfortunately, Marshall has only been a finalist for the Hall of Fame once, back in 2004. Broncos quarterback John Elway and Lions running back Barry Sanders were obvious selections. The other finalist to get selected was Eller, while tackle Bob Brown was the Seniors Committee selection. Unfortunately, this left Marshall on the outside looking in.

Although it would be long overdue, Marshall deserves to finally have his day in the spotlight. His 130.5 sacks, according to Pro Football Reference, is only second in team history behind Eller. Going off of this list, Marshall is unofficially tied for 22nd all-time in sacks. That is ahead of other Hall of Famers such as Claude Humphrey, Derrick Thomas, Randy White, and Charles Haley, among others.

Let’s hope that this news is the first step towards Marshall’s Hall of Fame induction. His toughness, leadership, durability, and on-field production embodies what the Hall looks for, and it is what all Vikings should aspire to be.


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