U.S. Bank Stadium won’t be hosting a football game this weekend, but it will be the site of a charity event Saturday hosted by Minnesota Vikings Hall of Famer Alan Page.
Page and his wife Diane will be hosting his 29th annual Page Education Foundation All-Star Benefit Gala, launched in 1988 and dedicated to encouraging Minnesota’s youth of color to pursue post-secondary education, helping to financially support college students’ academic goals while fostering positive mentor relationships and encouraging role models for children.
On Wednesday, Page appeared on the “Mackey & Judd” program of 1500ESPN in Minneapolis to promote the event Saturday and, in the span of a 10-minute interview, explained why he is a Hall of Famer off the field to a greater extent than he was as a football player.
Asked what he is most proud of in his life – as a football player, lawyer, Minnesota Supreme Court justice and philanthropist doing positive things for future generations, Page had a hard time figuring out an answer because, while beloved by Vikings fans of his generation who actually saw him dominate on a week-to-week basis, he has done so much more for society in general than he ever did for football fans.
“I’ve had so much good fortune that it’s really very difficult to say I’m proud of one thing more than another,” Page said. “I look back on my football career, practicing law, my career on the (Minnesota Supreme) Court, the work Diane and I have done with the Page Education Foundation. It’s pretty hard to say one is more important than the others. I suppose if forced, I would say the work that Page Scholars do is the one that excites me the most – the ongoing work that they do in changing the future and making it better for not only for themselves and the young people they work with, but for this community and this state.”
Page’s football acumen was obvious from the time he took the field. But his passion was the law and equity for all. Even if he played in an era where players didn’t have offseason jobs out of necessity, he couldn’t imagine just sitting on NFL money and doing nothing else.
“Long before I had an interest in being a football player, I had an interest in the law,” Page said. “People would ask when I was 8, 9, 10 years old what I wanted to be when I grow up and I was say I wanted to be a lawyer. I didn’t know much about really what the law was all about other than having grown up at the time of (the landmark Supreme Court case) Brown v. Board of Education and reading newspaper articles about the Supreme Court’s decision there. It led me to the conclusion that the law is about solving problems and helping people. It was something that, even at that early age, I understood was important.”
The current front-burner NFL societal issue has been made by San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He has created a social media schism by connecting racial inequity and the U.S. flag as it pertains to the observance of the National Anthem.
In Page’s view, it all depends on the individual. Page came to manhood at a time when there was a wide divide in terms of racism in America. Athletes have a platform few are afforded and if the barrister has his choice, he believes NFL players can do a lot of good if they properly pick and choose their battles.
“I would tell them to be true to themselves and do what they can to bring about change,” Page said. “Everyone is going to have a different sort of idea how best to do that. Sometimes being diplomatic is the appropriate way. Sometimes being confrontational is the appropriate way. I think everybody has got to figure out what they can do to be most effective in bringing about change. Far be it from me to suggest one way or another as being more appropriate. I think we all have to figure that out for ourselves.”
Being a jurist, Page deftly deflected a question pertaining to what he do in Kaepernick’s shoes, but made clear that lone voices are the impetus for change.
“Maybe I wouldn’t do that, maybe I would,” Page said. “That’s the way he’s chosen and hopefully some good will come from it – that we as a nation will come to grips with our terrible past and not-so-great present.”
For more information on attending the Page Education Foundation fundraising gala, call 612-332-0406.
The Vikings may be out of town this weekend, but that doesn’t mean that good things won’t be happening at U.S. Bank Stadium. In many ways, what happens there Saturday night may well be more important than any game the current Vikings play in the stadium.