Throwback Corner : Paul Krause, 1964-67 Washington Redskins, 1968-79 Minnesota Vikings
There are few people that recognize The Vikings’ Paul Krause as the NFL’s all-time interception leader. Think of the great defensive backs in NFL history, and nobody has more interceptions. Ed Reed, Charles Woodson, Mel Blount, Everson Walls, Dick Lane, Rod Woodson–the list could go on and on, but Krause’s record of 81 career picks may last forever.
Paul Krause’s bio from the Hall of Fame reads: “I’m plain and simple the safety man, the guy who has to stop the play when the others don’t, and that’s the way I like it.”
Paul Krause truly lived up to that. When Vikings’ fans think of the all-time great players on their team, it usually takes a while for his name to come up, but he remains one of the greatest Vikings and defensive backs to play in the NFL.
Krause played high school football in Burton, Michigan at Bendle High School, where he earned All-State honors in not only football, but baseball, basketball and track. He parlayed his skills into a football scholarship from the University of Iowa, where he played both ways as a wide receiver and defensive back, showcasing his versatility. He also was an All-Star baseball player for the Hawkeyes.
But the Football Gods lit the way for Paul to find his way to the NFL, and he was selected by the Washington Redskins in the second round of the 1964 draft. He made a name for himself right off the bat with 12 interceptions in his rookie year, earning First-Team All NFL honors.
Although he amassed 28 interceptions as a Redskin, Krause was traded to our Vikings for a linebacker and a 7th round pick. He continued to shine for Minnesota throughout his career.
After meeting him in person, I remember telling my friend “he doesn’t seem big enough to play football”. In fact, he reminded me of a former teacher I knew from school instead of one of the NFL’s finest defensive backs of all time.
He may not have been the vocal leader of our defense, but he was certainly a solid piece for the Vikings’ defense. Krause played during the height of the ‘Purple People Eaters’ reign as the league’s best defensive line, and they shared fame and success together.
I can well remember Paul Krause making key plays, key tackles, and crucial Interceptions just when the defense needed them most, always seeming to be in the right place at the right time. His skill at reading receivers and shutting down some of the best wideouts of the day was clear to every player that ever called him a teammate.
Krause was one of the few who played in all four Vikings’ Super Bowls, and was a respected member and leader of our purple-and-gold defense.
Many Vikings’ fans can recall how Krause closed in on an errant pass and turned it into an interception, or while in coverage, knew just when to gain position over a receiver for a pick.
With deceptive speed, Karuse seemed to sense where the ball was going, and knew just what position to be in to get to it. He picked off a lot of NFL quarterbacks, and was a solid and tough tackler, a fact that sometimes gets overlooked in his amazing career stats.
Paul Krause’s Hall-of Fame Career Statistics
8× Pro Bowl (1964, 1965, 1969, 1971–1975)
3× First-team All-Pro (1964, 1965, 1975)
4× Second-team All-Pro (1968, 1969, 1971, 1972)
NFL interceptions leader (1964)
Washington Redskins’ 70th Anniversary Team
Minnesota Vikings’ Ring of Honor
NFL record 81 career interceptions