… INDUCTED INTO NFL HALL OF FAME
… PLAYED IN 2 PRO BOWLS, 4 SUPER BOWLS, RECOVERED AN NFL
RECORD 29 FUMBLES
… PLAYED IN 270 CONSECUTIVE STARTS AT DEFENSIVE END, AN NFL
… NFL DEFENSIVE END, CLEVELAND BROWNS AND MINNESOTA
VIKINGS, 1960 1979
Football is blocking and tackling. Everything else is mythology.
IT’S HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME
Sports reinforced everything I learned from my father and grandfather, and that was all about having a good work ethic. They used to say, Be ready to sign your name to every job you tackle, because people will examine it and you have to be able to say you completed it with pride. That was my approach to sports: give your best and be a teammate anyone would consider dependable.
I’d say that playing every game for twenty years could be considered dependable,
THE MOMENT THAT CONVINCED ME I COULD DO IT
I was in high school and a runner was coming down the sidelines. A blocker came in on me and I jumped over him and made the tackle on the sidelines. One of the coaches, who it turned out had been a great player in his day, came up to me and said that I could be special. That meant a lot to me, and I started to believe that I was a special player and I began to play that way. I had always tried to do my best, and I was brought up to not care about the acclaim but just to live up to my own expectations, and that conversation with my coach raised my expectations considerably.
ALL ABOUT DOING IT RIGHT
I remember walking with my dad one day and he pointed out the roof of a huge house. He asked me what I saw and I said, Two guys replacing roof shingles. He said, Notice how they’re placed. Very carefully, so that the water passes from one to the next until the water runs off. It took me a while to get his point, but we watched for hours as these two roofers place one tile after another across the roof. I finally got that he was trying to teach me the need for teamwork, and the importance of doing a job the right way. If one tile was out of place that roof wouldn’t drain properly and eventually it would leak and rot. It’s all about integrity and the need to do things right, if you want things to work properly. You
JIM MARSHALL 217
have to seek a degree of perfection, and my dad and grandfather were just drilling it into me. I was taught never to accept second best. Perhaps that’s why Jim Marshall played longer and more consistently then any defensive lineman in NFL history. I did what I was suppose to do, is the way he’d put it.
Striving to never be second best is what makes the four Super Bowl losses so tough. The fourth, versus Oakland, was the only game I ever played in that where I did not make a tackle. I fell into a state of depression. I tried as hard as I could to be good, but that day I just wasn’t close to my best effort, and it was tough to deal with. It happens in life and now that I’m retired, I’ve come to a resolution with this and I’m no longer ashamed.
THE WRONG-WAY RUN, OCTOBER 25, 1964
One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was when I picked up a fumble and ran the wrong way, sixty-six yards, into the wrong end zone. Yes, his own team’s end zone. It’s never been done since, and just about all football fans remember it.
In truth, I had one of my better games that day. Ultimately I made up for it by causing a fumble, which my teammate, Carl Eller, took in for a touchdown for the winning score. What did I learn? To think things through! That’s what. What I am proud of is that I got myself together and, in reflection, it was a good character-builder. I found that people relate to the play because we all make mistakes in our life. It just so happens that I have to answer for that play, for that mistake, every day since, which isn’t usually what happens with other people.
IT’S ALL ABOUT GETTING UP, NOT GETTING KNOCKED DOWN
I look at life as a game, and the game of life is the most difficult game we
can play. We are faced with so many different questions and decisions
every day, and sports helps us set up a framework to deal with all these issues.
My dad’s lessons have given me my own rules and guidelines that
have helped me and will continue to help me. All I know is that I play life
218 IT’S HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME
and football to the best of my ability and more often then not, it’s more than enough.
It seems unjust that a person who exhibits such pride and consistency his whole life would be linked with five negative momentsthe wrong-way run and four Super Bowl defeatsbut it says so much to me that he has put it behind him. Jim Marshall knows what we all should know: that no one is perfect, and that we can all control our effort, but not necessarily the result.
JIM MARSHALL Photo Gallery
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