Carl Eller was elected into the Hall of Fame last weekend. Jim Marshall was not.
It's hardly the first disappointment in Marshall's life. He was eligible for two decades and was never elected. He played in four Super Bowls with the Vikings and never got to be part of the victor's dance.
The situations — or at least the disappointment — between four Super Bowl losses and not getting into the Hall of Fame this year seemed very similar to Marshall last week when he showed up at the Vikings' Winter Park headquarters to support the induction of his close friend and former teammate, Eller.
When speaking one-on-one, Marshall's disappointment at his own exclusion showed through.
"I had enough disappointment from a losing effort in four Super Bowls, and I learned that disappointment is something that I don't deal with very well," Marshall told VU. "If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't …"
January was Marshall and Eller's final opportunity to be considered as part of the regular process for induction into the Hall of Fame. After 25 years of consideration since retiring in 1979, his eligibility to be considered among the masses of players looking for induction has expired.
Now his chances get slimmer. If he is ever inducted, it will have to come at the mercy of the veterans selection committee, which forwards one recommendation per year to the voting panel of 39. They consider that recommendation along with the other finalists in the process.
It's difficult for Marshall to ponder the thought of regrouping for another campaign to be considered.
"In ordinary circumstances, you would have to approach this with a certain amount of thought and anticipation," he said, "and that's a difficult road to travel."
The longevity and accomplishments of his career certainly warrant consideration. He played 20 seasons, one with Cleveland before joining and staying with the Vikings from 1961-79. He ranks first in NFL history with 282 consecutive games play, with a record 270 of those coming with the Vikings. He ranks second to Eller in sacks, with 127, and led or tied for the team lead in sacks in each of his first six seasons with the team. He also holds the NFL record with 29 fumble recoveries and ranks behind only Alan Page (another Hall of Fame member) for career tackles (988) among Vikings defensive linemen.
Instead, Marshall may have to settle for simply visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on August 9. Eller is giving consideration to having Marshall present him to the Hall because the two were roommates for more than 15 years. But Eller would also like to forward the cause for Marshall's consideration.
"(Marshall not being selected) was disappointing because all of the guys here will tell you that Jim was our leader starting in all those games," Eller said. "We saw Jim many days get up and go play a game when we thought he wasn't even going to get up. That was the inspiration for us, and not only for me but for the rest of the team. The biggest thing was I knew how he felt. I knew what that disappointment was like, and I felt sad for him. I know he was glad for me, but I was feeling really sad for him, and I think that took a little bit away from what I was feeling."
There may be one major reason Marshall's prime time of opportunity slipped by the wayside.
"One of the problems we had before Red (McCombs) took over was that for almost 20 years we had people running the football team that were not primarily football people," Marshall said. "They were interested in doing the things they needed to do to increase the revenue, promote the Vikings and things like that. Getting players into the Hall of Fame or promoting us for anything wasn't really part of their agenda."
That has changed under McCombs and assistant Chad Ostlund. Since McCombs bought the team in 1998 and began barking the catch phrase "Purple Pride," he has made the players of the past an important part of Vikings history again. The franchise has performed numerous halftime ceremonies honoring Fran Tarkenton, Alan Page, Jim Finks, Bud Grant, Paul Krause, trainer Fred Zamberletti (all inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor during McCombs' first year of ownership in 1998), Marshall, Ron Yary, Korey Stringer, Mick Tingelhoff, Eller and Cris Carter.
Ostlund also organized an effort for Marshall to present the NFC Championship trophy to the Carolina Panthers in Philadelphia in January, just two weeks before Marshall's disappointment became official.
"He thinks of things like this," Marshall said of Ostlund. "But I don't know that I would allow myself to get so emotionally involved in the situation to set myself up for disappointment (with another campaign). That's not a good feeling. You know, four Super Bowls, I said, ‘OK, this is enough.'"
Marshall's Disappointment At Hall Exclusion Shows
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