Crazy Canton Cuts: Jim Marshall

JW NixSenior Writer IIMarch 15, 2009

Jim Marshall
6'4" 248lbs
Defensive End
Minnesota Vikings
1960 - 1979   (20 Seasons)
282 Games Played (Consecutive)
127 Sacks
29 Fumbles Recovered
1 Safety
2 Pro Bowls

Jim Marshall was a fourth round draft choice of the Cleveland Browns in 1960. He was the 44th player picked overall. He had played the year before in the Canadian Football League for the Saskatchewan Roughriders after leaving Ohio State University upon the completion of his junior year.

Marshall teams won two National Championships and one Rose Bowl. In 1958, against Purdue, Jim scored on a 25 yard interception return, and another touchdown on a 22-yard blocked punt return.

He also kicked both extra points, as the Buckeyes tied the Boilermakers 14-14. Jim earned All American honors at OSU and is a member of the OSU Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.

A two-sport star, he also set the school discus and shot put records as a member of the track and field team in 1958. His CFL exploits are sketchy at best, due to the lack of records available from that era.

He was listed as a Defensive Tackle. The following year he submitted his name into the NFL Draft.

When Marshall came to the Browns, he started right away at right Defensive End. He started the first three games, but had a falling out with legendary head coach Paul Brown.

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He soon lost his starting job, but continued to play the rest of the season. In the off season, Brown had plans to move Marshall to offensive tackle, but Marshall contracted encephalitis, and lost a great deal of weight.

This fact, coupled with the problems Marshall and Paul Brown were having, did not bode well for Marshall's future in Cleveland. Both teams have different versions on how Marshall became a member of the expansion Vikings.

The Vikings state that Marshall was traded with DT's Jim Prestel (eight NFL seasons), Paul Dickson (13 seasons), RB Jamie Caleb (three seasons), LB Dick Grecni (one season), and CB Billy Gault (one season) while Cleveland received a second-round choice and an 11th-round choice.

These picks turned out to be DT Chuck Hinton, who played nine NFL seasons for other teams, and End Ronnie Meyers, who never played in the NFL. The Browns state that "Jim Marshall was released by the Browns on Sept. 11, 1961.

His rights were picked up by the Minnesota Vikings soon after, and the Browns, in a “gentleman’s agreement”, which is how Paul Brown carried out many deals, received cash and “future considerations”. Regardless, Marshall was then a Viking until 1979.

Marshall was with the team through the good and bad times. He led the team in sacks their first six years in the NFL. He may best be remembered for his 66-yard "wrong way" run, the longest safety and shortest play in NFL history.

Billy Kilmer, then a running back with the San Francisco 49ers, had fumbled the ball. Marshall scooped it up and bolted for the wrong end zone. The Vikings won the game, as Marshall came up with a key sack in the fourth quarter.

The "wrong way run" is truly a NFL classic moment to this day. But Marshall also achieved many more great feats on the field. Many fans know he played in a then-league-record 282 consecutive games for the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings. 302 counting his playoff appearances.

Punter Jeff Feagles just passed this number, but the NFL still recognizes Marshalls consecutive starts streak. Marshall also owns the NFL record of 282 consecutive games played by a Defensive End. Marshall also recovered 29 fumbles, an NFL record.

He is listed as the Vikings franchises second leading All Time leading sack totals leader, behind Hall of Famer Carl Eller, with 127. Marshall was the Vikings team captain for 17 seasons.

In all, discounting CFL games, Marshall played in 409 games (pre-season, season, post season and pro-bowls), had over 1050 tackles, and over 133 sacks. His teams won 11 Divisional Championships.

He played in four Super Bowls. Twice he kept his streak intact by walking out of hospitals where he was recuperating from pneumonia and ulcers. On another occasion, he played after accidentally shooting himself in the side while cleaning his shotgun.

In the final home game of his illustrious career, Marshall sacked Buffalo's Joe Ferguson twice. Marshall even played offensive tackle during the Vikings final series. Minnesota won 10-3, and Marshall was carried off the field by his teammates.

Marshall was awarded the game ball, the first one ever given to a Viking player by Head Coach Bud Grant.

Many fans may best remember Marshall in his days of the Purple People Eaters. Teamed with Alan Page and Carl Eller, Gary Larsen, then Doug Sutherland, Marshall helped lead one of the greatest front fours in NFL history.

Paige and Eller are in the NFL Hall of Fame. The Vikings may not have won the Super Bowl, but their teams were annually amongst the most feared and respected during the era.

Jim Marshall was one of a kind. We have seen Darrell Green and Jackie Slater play as long since, but neither matched Marshall's consecutive games streak. Marshall played in 270 games in 19 seasons with the Vikings and never missed a game.

These are probably records that will stand for a very, very long time. Marshall was versatile enough to play on either side of the ball, and anywhere along the defensive line.

His toughness is legendary. Many in the Twin Cities remember how Marshall and 16 others on snowmobiles got caught in a blizzard in Wyoming.

Many of the party broke up in small groups as the snowmobiles conked out one by one. A bank president from Minnesota died. Marshall was with five other people (Dickson was one of the five) as they tried to walk through snow that was 10-15 feet deep.

They made a snow cave to rest for the night by burning everything they had. Marshall's money, checkbook, and other papers. They made it another 24 hours as they froze in their camp before help arrived. Marshall called the experience  “the toughest thing I’ve ever encountered in my life.”

When you look at Jim Marshall's stats, he is Canton worthy. When you factor in his legendary streak, it should be concrete proof that he is undeniably a Hall of Fame player.

Maybe the voters won't let him him because of Eller and Paige? This same thought comes to mind for Steeler great L.C. Greenwood. That should not be a deterrent. Paige and Eller finished their careers elsewhere, but certainly are worthy.


He was as consistent as they come. He should have been in the NFL Hall of Fame years ago.

Notable 1960 Draftees (* Denotes Hall of Fame Inductee)

1. Billy Cannon, RB, LA Rams
3. Johnny Robinson, DB, Detroit
8. Jim Houston, LB, Cleveland
10. Ron Mix, OT, Baltimore *
20. Maxie Baughan, LB, Philadelphia
32. Don Meredith, QB, Chicago
42. Roger Brown, DT, Detroit
55. Abner Haynes, RB, Pittsburgh
74. Larry Wilson, S, St. Louis Cardinals *
109. Charley Johnson, QB, St. Louis Cardinals
110. Curtis McClinton, RB, LA Rams
119. Bobby Boyd, DB, Baltimore