Jim Marshall was relentless when he made up his mind to get after a quarterback. His 127 sacks, second in Vikings’ franchise history, are proof if needed. But his pursuit for ultimate recognition of his enormous contributions to the Vikings and the NFL has been far more elusive than the quarterbacks who could not so easily escape his grasp.
The Vikings’ campaign to get Marshall into the Pro Football Hall of Fame has again fallen short. Robert Brazile of the Houston Oilers and Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers have been picked as the senior finalists for the 2018 class.
Marshall, as he has in the past, was included on a list of 80 to 90 candidates being considered for induction by the senior committee. The process began in June, and this month five of the senior committee members joined two current Hall of Famers in Canton, Ohio to discuss the semifinalists, followed later by the naming of the finalists. A senior nominee must have completed his career at least 25 years ago and will need at least 80 percent of the vote by the Hall of Fame selection committee when it meets during Super Bowl week in Minneapolis to be elected.
Marshall and the Vikings were hopeful this would be the year one of the franchise’s best-ever players and an original Viking would get the final nod.
“I know it changed Carl Eller’s life when he went in,” Marshall told the Star Tribune’s Mark Craig this summer. “He seemed like a different person after he went in. I can’t figure out how in the world it would change my life other than it would be good for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to see. But it definitely would be a good thing and, surely, I would faint.”
Marshall began his career in 1960 in Cleveland and played 19 years with the Vikings. In that span, the two-time Pro Bowler collected 127 sacks, trailing only Eller (130) in the Vikings’ record book. Marshall also had 29 opponent fumble recoveries and, most impressive of all, never missed a game, playing 282 consecutively.
“His body would bend,” former Vikings coach Bud Grant said, “but it never broke.”
Marshall and his wife Susan live in St. Louis Park. He is paying a physical price for the years of pounding, having undergone multiple surgeries on his back, neck and eyes, and has even had heart surgeries.
“I am lucky,” Marshall told the Star Tribune. “My mind is sharp. I’ve had tears in my eyes with some of the guys I played with. It’s devastating to be with a guy who you used to joke and play around with, and now he doesn’t even recognize you. That’s tough, man. I feel very bad for their lives and very thankful for mine.”
His wait for the Hall of Fame now moves into another year.
Brazile went to seven Pro Bowls and was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1970s as a linebacker with the Houston Oilers.
Kramer helped Green Bay win five NFL championships and the first two Super Bowls, and the guard was voted to both the 1960s All-Decade team and the NFL’s 50th Anniversary team in 1969.