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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings great Jim Marshall is up for an adventure

By Derek Wetmore

By: Patrick Reusse

Jim Marshall had a number of role models in his formative years, and none were more important than his father and grandfather. They were demanding gentlemen that both carried the name George.

“They had gone through the Great Depression,” Marshall said. “Nothing was to be wasted, including time. Everything had to be done perfect.”

Marshall was born in Danville, Ky. on Dec. 30, 1937, near his grandfather’s 200-acre farm. Jim’s family would move to Columbus, Ohio, but he would return to the farm in the summer to put in some long, perfect days helping his grandfather.

His father started out as a bartender, and then became the manager, and then the owner of a Columbus saloon called the Yacht Club.

“I was a kid and wanted to work there,” Marshall said. “You had to go down these narrow steps to get the beer. My dad said, ‘OK, boy, when you can carry two cases of beer at a time up those steps and stock the cooler, I’ll let you work.’

“I started working on my muscles. Pretty soon, I was carrying two cases. Working on the farm, carrying beer cases … it made me strong.”

Sure did. The Ohio state high school record book gives Marshall credit for having set a state record of 162 feet with the two-kilogram discus in 1956. He’s being short-changed, Jim says.

“My longest throw was 172 feet, 11 ½ inches,” he said. “With this.”

Marshall produced a worn discus with a chipped, yellow center that was next to his chair in the TV den. The 60-year-old discus fits in his right hand as comfortably as Marshall fits in that favorite chair.

He was a few days short of his 80th birthday (on Dec. 30) when a reporter showed up at the St. Louis Park home owned by Jim and his wife Susan.

“Did you see the story in the paper this morning about that Zip Line for the Super Bowl?” Marshall said. “I want to do that. I want to take a ride on that Zip Line.”

He’s had six back surgeries, including two fusions. He has titanium hips and knees. He’s had shoulder surgeries. The legs don’t work like they used to. And what had Jim Marshall extra-energized on this day?

Figuring out a way to arrange a ride on the Bold North Zip Line across the Mississippi River.

The surprise for Marshall’s interest in this adventure would be zero among friends, teammates and followers of Vikings history.

“Old Marshall always had something going,” said Fred Zamberletti, the trainer who joined Marshall as an original Viking. ‘’Right away, he was the buffer between Norm [Van Brocklin] and the players.”

Ask Marshall about Van Brocklin, the original coach, and he gives you a “do we want to go there?” look. Ask Marshall about Bud Grant, the successor to Van Brocklin in 1967, and you get more of a smirk.

“We were just done with Norm and Bud came in from Canada, and the first thought was, ‘He’s crazy, too; why are we doing this stuff? ‘’ Marshall said. “We found out soon there was a method to Bud’s madness. There was no real method to Van Brocklin’s. He thought the only thing that mattered was toughness.”

Van Brocklin called Marshall “Beanpole,” in reference to a frame that was slender for an NFL lineman. One day in Bemidji, where the early Vikings would spend weeks in training camp, Van Brocklin came to Marshall, handed him a roll of cash and said:

“Everybody has been working hard, Beanpole. Take ‘em out tonight, buy ‘em big steaks and all the beer and whiskey they want to drink.”

Marshall followed orders. And the next morning Van Brocklin came in the dorm at 6 a.m., blowing a whistle and screaming like a drill sergeant, telling everyone to be on the field in full equipment in 15 minutes.

“He had baseball bats every 8, 10 feet; we put our foreheads on the bats and would spin around, then roll to the next bat,” Marsall said. “The first group of players was heaving all over the place. The next group had to roll around in that heave.”

Van Brocklin taught heaving. Grant taught winning.

Officially, Jim Marshall played in 282 consecutive games in the NFL. It was actually 302, when you add 15 playoff games, four Super Bowls and the 1968 Playoff Bowl (for conference runners-up) vs. Dallas.

The four games for which he suffers emotionally are the Super Bowl losses. “It has hung over me since we lost the first one,” Marshall said.

There’s another game for which Marshall is more notorious: The “Wrong Way Run” on Oct. 25, 1964 in San Francisco’s Kezar Stadium, when he picked up a fumble by Billy Kilmer and sped 66 yards in the wrong direction.

“How would you like to have the worst mistake of your career mentioned to you a million times?” Marshall said. “The difference between that and the Super Bowls is we won the game in San Francisco.”

The hope of the Vikings and generations of their followers was that this Super Bowl in Minneapolis would include an announcement on the eve of the game that Jim Marshall finally was headed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

It didn’t happen. Marshall was again not one of the Veteran Committee’s nominees.

“Our other guys are in there,” he said. “Alan [Page] is in, Carl [Eller] is in … Mick [Tingelhoff] just got in, and that’s great. I’m good.”

One reason being that he remains alive, somehow.

Marshall accidentally shot himself in the side in January 1964 while unloading his handgun in the driveway before going into the house. He was on the snowmobile ride in the northern Rockies that was engulfed by a fierce blizzard and cost one of the 16 people, Hugh Galusha, his life. He crashed his new, gas-powered hang glider on the Bloomington Jefferson athletic fields in 1980, a few months after his retirement, and broke major bones.

And now he had his eye on a Zip Line ride at age 80. What gives?

“I was born in Kentucky,” Marshall said. “And I’ve always been a country boy just looking for something to do.”

The post Vikings great Jim Marshall is up for an adventure appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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