Jim Marshall



James Lawrence Marshall was born December 30, 1937, in Wilsonville, Kentucky. He is a member of the Purple People Eaters – the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive line from the late 60s to the late 70s. The name stems from a popular 1958 song, the color of their jerseys, and the superb efficiency of the defense.

Their motto was ‘Meet at the quarterback.’ Although the Vikings did not ever win the Super Bowl, they were contenders four times when Marshall was on the team.

Before playing for the Minnesota Vikings, Marshall was a member of the Cleveland Browns, who traded him and five other players for two NFL draft picks in 1961.

Jim Marshall Career History and Records

After playing for one year with Cleveland, he ended his career with the Vikings with 282 consecutive games (including playoffs) played, which was a record at the time. He was credited with 130.5 career quarterback sacks.

His awards include having his number retired and being inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor.

Marshall’s NFL data records for both teams include:

  • 282 consecutive seasons played as a defensive lineman
  • 270 consecutive starts as a defensive player
  • 30 fumbles recovered
  • 66 yards lost on a fumble recovery
black and white pgoto of kjim marshall runing on the field
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For more career stats, see here Jim Marshall Stats

What is Marshall famous for besides most consecutive games played?

While also known for the fumble recovery, he has many other statistics that make him worthy of honor. He hit his prime as a defensive player in 1969, when he made 14 sacks, an interception, and two fumble recoveries.

That season he earned second-team Pro and All-Pro Bowl honors. He was a driving force in the NFL Championship run by the Vikings before they lost Super Bowl IV to Kansas City. He played in the four Super Bowls with the Vikings.

In 1975 and 1976, he was responsible for the second-highest number of sacks by a player at least 38 years of age. In 1979, he was the oldest player in the history of the NFL, credited with multiple sacks in one game. He did it again the following year.

When you compare Jim Marshall to other defensive ends in the Pro and All-Pro honors, his double-digit sacks in four seasons excel three current members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Marshall’s durability and elite play exceed 19 defensive ends in the Hall of Fame. The 130.5 sacks are five above the average among the group. Those men averaged nearly 100 fewer games played than Marshall.


Where is Jim Marshall now?

Marshall and his wife, Susan, reside now in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Years of physical pounding have taken a toll on him. He has undergone heart surgeries and multiple surgeries on his eyes, neck, and back.

Will Jim Marshall get in the Hall of Fame?

Unknown yet. Vikings fans have tried for decades to get one of its greatest players, Jim Marshall, into the NFL Hall of Fame. Marshall made the semifinalists list for the Class of 2023 coaches/contributors category, but in July news came out that he was not selected for the final round intended for August 2023.

Bud Grant, his long-time head coach, was disappointed with the news. He says Jim is among the greatest Vikings of all time. According to Grant, Marshall’s continued play and durability to excel at a high level, along with his membership and leadership of the Purple People Eaters, should be enough to earn a spot in Ohio.

Anyone who wishes to support Jim Marshall’s acceptance to the Hall Of Fame may do so through the following Facebook Campaign that was established for this exact purpose.

What is the “wrong-way run“?

While playing against the San Francisco 49ers on October 25, 1964, Jim Marshall recovered an offensive fumble and dashed 66 yards into the 49ers’ endzone. Thinking he scored a touchdown for his team Marshall celebrated and pitched the football out of bounds and earned a two-point safety for his rivals.

Marshall made up for the mistake with a forced fumble that quarterback Carl Eller returned for a touchdown. The Vikings won that game with a 27 to 22 score. Marshall’s miscue is ranked #54 among the 100 Greatest NFL Plays.

How many sacks did Jim Marshall have?

Marshall had 130 sacks during his 20 years as a defensive end player in the NFL, with a career average of 6.5 sacks per year.

Where did Jim Marshall go to college?

Jim Marshall went to school at Ohio State University. He was a six-foot-three-inch, 235-pound athlete who starred for two seasons as an Ohio State Buckeye.

In his junior year, he decided to leave and sign with the Canadian league Saskatchewan Roughriders, only to trade places in the spring of 1960 with Bob Ptacek of the Cleveland Browns.

How many years did Jim Marshall play for the Vikings?

Marshall played 19 seasons (1961-1979) for the Vikings until retirement from pro football.