It's not easy getting to the NFL, but to get to the Pro Football Hall of Fame takes a truly special athlete. Carl Eller was exactly that for the Minnesota Vikings from 1964-78, as the quotes about him throughout the years will attest to.
Carl Eller's NFL career spanned 16 years, 225 games, after being a first-round draft choice of the Minnesota Vikings
During those 16 years, he was named All-Pro five times and named to six Pro Bowls. At the time of his retirement, he was third in the league with 23 opponent fumbles recovered.
He was the starting left defensive end in all four of the Vikings' Super Bowl appearances and obviously showed incredible athleticism and gained the respect of players and coaches around the league.
Today, he will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, along with Barry Sanders, John Elway and Bob "Boomer" Brown. Eller had a few epic battles with Brown, an offensive tackle that he gained respect for throughout the years.
"He would strike out at you; he wanted to do bodily harm," Eller said of Brown. "I always felt satisfied when I had a good game against Bob because his intention was to inflict pain."
Eller wasn't the only one impressed with Brown.
"I've been in the league 10 years and I'm not easily impressed, but that guy is fantastic," said former Cleveland Browns
defensive end Paul Wiggin, now the Vikings' director of pro personnel, in 1967.
While Eller won many of his battles against Brown, the quotes provided by the Hall of Fame about Carl Eller are just as supportive. Here is what players and coaches around the league, as well as Eller himself, had to say about his induction.
QUOTES ON CARL ELLER
"This was a moment that I wanted and prayed for, for a very, very long time," Eller said moments after his election to the Hall of Fame.
"Just figure to put on a good rush and everybody meet at the quarterback," Eller said in 1969, sharing his philosophy on defense.
"He's coming along faster than we had anticipated," former Vikings head coach Norm Van Brocklin said in 1964, Eller's rookie season.
"I think he's the best defensive end in pro football," former Kansas City Chief Aaron Brown said prior to Super Bowl IV.
"I have more problem in practice than against any defensive end I've faced in a game," said Hall of Fame tackle and Vikings teammate Ron Yary, commenting on practicing against Eller.
"Carl was a great athlete and football player. He was a very determined player that was never satisfied with just playing the game. You had to respect him because he wasn't out there to play. He was out there to win," said Hall of Fame safety Paul Krause, a teammate with the Vikings.
"One way you achieve greatness in this game is through super-ability. Carl has that and he also has super-durability. He plays with pain, with hurts, and he plays just as well. Some players play with pain, but they cannot play as well when they are hurting," said former Vikings Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant.
"He has the physical requirements. Beyond that, intelligence. And he still has the young man's approach to the game. He likes it, enjoys it, and wants to be the best," said Hall of Famer and former Vikings General Manager Jim Finks in 1972.