Tonight, football fans can tune in to the Hall of Fame game for their first taste of football in 172 days. The game itself is typically dull, but the Hall of Fame game is worth watching for its celebration of the game’s greats. Unfortunately, this year the game will continue a baffling injustice – Jim Marshall will once again be passed over for enshrinement in Canton.
Vikings fans and former players were hopeful this could be the year Marshall gets in when he made it through to the semifinal round of the 2024 Senior Hall of Fame Class, but last week came bad news. He was not included in the final 12 nominees announced ahead of the Hall of Fame Game.
Marshall’s absence is as quizzical as it is disappointing for Vikings fans. Marshall was the captain and emotional anchor of the Purple People Eaters defenses that dominated the NFL in the 70s. The late Bud Grant was fond of saying that Marshall was the best representative of the Vikings of that era and was also the most unique player he ever coached.
He wasn’t just a team player though, he was a dominant force just like his Hall-of-Fame teammates Alan Page and Carl Eller. While sacks weren’t an official stat until 1982, Marshall is credited with 130.5 total sacks (128 of them with the Vikings) by Pro Football Reference. That number is good for fifth most of former Vikings in history and 22nd most in NFL history. Yet Marshall’s most impressive stat is related to his iron man nature. Marshall played for 20 seasons and never missed a game, starting a back-breaking 270 consecutive games.
Advanced metrics are a fan of Marshall as well. Pro Football Reference computes approximate player value as an attempt to put a number on the seasonal and career value of a player. Marshall’s career approximate value of 168 was the highest of any of the 2024 Hall of Fame semifinalists.
The biggest knocks against Marshall’s Hall of Fame case seem to be that he never had a truly dominant season – he only registered more than 10 sacks in a season 4 times – and the Vikings lack of Super Bowl success. While these factors may be legitimate reasons for Marshall not to be a first ballot hall of famer, his career accomplishments on one of the best defenses of all time surely warrant more consideration than he’s received. The last time Marshall was a hall of fame finalist was in 2004.
Marshall infamously ran the wrong way after scooping up a fumble and continued course into the endzone for safety all while his teammates tried in vain to get him to change course. The NFL selection continues to impersonate Marshall’s folly by failing to induct him while former players and coaches.
Jim Marshall deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
He's more deserving than any other Vikings player to be in there. He NEVER missed a game in 19 years! He never missed a practice or had a down day!
A truly incredible player. So, who's ready for Jim to be inducted?
— Francis Tarkenton (@Fran_Tarkenton) August 16, 2022
Jim Marshall Included in Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024 Semifinalists
“If ever there has been a Hall of Fame player, Its Jim Marshall. I am hoping this is his well, deserved year. pic.twitter.com/vpiOY0aCy5
— George Foreman (@GeorgeForeman) July 25, 2023
The Hall will enshrine three more senior members in 2025 and 2026. Hopefully they do what Marshall didn’t – listen to those around them. It’s time to induct Jim Marshall.
Feature image by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) Jim Marshall