Eller, Marshall Emotional Contrast

There was both celebration and consolation Saturday for the Vikings family, as one of their all-time greats got the call to the Hall of Fame and one was left outside the door in his final year of current eligibility.

To ask Carl Eller, he expected this day to came 20 years ago -- back in 1985 when he was first eligible to go to the Hall of Fame. As the years progressed, Eller began to wonder if he would ever get the call to Canton.

That call finally came Saturday, on Eller's 13th time as a Hall of Fame finalist and his last year of eligibility. He joined QB John Elway, RB Barry Sanders and OT Bob Brown as the Class of 2004 Hall of Fame inductees -- 25 years after he retired and 40 years removed from being the Vikings' first-round draft choice in 1964.

During his career, Eller put up the kind of numbers the 39 Hall of Fame voters look for -- six Pro Bowl appearances, five All-Pro selections, two Defensive Player of the Year honors and 138-1/2 sacks (a stat Eller helped make official three years after is retirement).

While there was celebration in the Eller camp, Marshall saw his final hurrah as a modern-day player come and go without election. Like Eller, this was Marshall's final chance to get selected as a modern-day player. Unlike Eller, this was Marshall's first time as a Hall of Fame finalist, but he didn't make the cut when the voted pared down the original list of 15 finalists down to 10.

This doesn't mean the end of the line for Marshall, the NFL's consummate Iron Man and all-time fumble recovery leader. Bob Brown, who was voted in along with Eller, Elway and Sanders, was a selection forwarded by the nine-member old timer's committee. Every year, the committee forwards two names of players who have been retired for more than 25 years for consideration. While the chances of being selected by the full panel as an old-timer is considered a long shot, with Brown making it this year it remains a distinct possibility.

Eller becomes the seventh Viking to enter the Hall of Fame, joining Fran Tarkenton, Bud Grant, Alan Page, Paul Krause, Ron Yary and general manager Jim Finks.

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