Ohio State’s Purple People Eater
Legandary Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Jim Marshall has an extended list of credentials that should one day land him in Canton, Ohio, save for one play.
During a 1964 regular season game against the San Francisco 49ers, Marshall scooped up a loose ball and ran toward what he thought was a touchdown. In the process of pursuing the loose ball, Marshall got his directions mixed-up and he ended up running toward his own end zone. Thinking he had just scored six points for the Vikes, Marshall tossed the ball in celebration, when in actuallity had just scored a safety for the 49ers.
The fumble recovered was one of Marshall’s 30 career fumble recoveries recorded during his long NFL career. The wrong-way fumble recovery is widely considered one of the most famous bloopers in all of sports and overshadows Marshall’s durability and production.
In 2009, the NFL Network ranked Marshall as the fourth best player not in the hall of fame.
Marshall helped anchor the defensive line of Minnesota’s famed Purple People Eater defense. Along with fellow d-lineman Alan Page and Carl Eller, who both are in the hall of fame, the Vikings made it to four Super Bowls in the 1970s.
Despite posting losses in each of his four trips to the Super Bowl, Marshall set new NFL standards. He played in then NFL recorded 282 consecutive games, which was later been surpassed by Jeff Feagles and then Brett Farve.
When Marshall retired and was the last player from Minnesota’s expansion team of 1961 to retire.
Marshall prepped at East High School in Columbus, Ohio, before heading to Ohio State to play on the collegiate level. As a Buckeye, he was a member of coach Woody Hayes’ 1957 National Championship team.
He the Buckeyes before his senior year to play for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. After one season north of the border, Marshall returned to Ohio after being selected by the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round of the 1960 NFL Draft.
By the next offseason Marshall was on the move again. The Browns traded Marshall to the expansion Vikings.