Marshall's number to be retired on Nov. 28
NEW YORK, N.Y. (Nov. 22, 1999) — This Sunday, Nov. 28, the Minnesota Vikings will honor one of the greatest players in their history — and the author of a record that may never be broken — Jim Marshall.
Marshall is the league's all-time leader in consecutive games played with 282 from 1960-79. He played for the Cleveland Browns in 1960 and with Minnesota from 1961-79. December 16 will mark the 20th anniversary of Marshall's final game.
Sunday's festivities will include a pregame ceremony, speeches by Marshall's former teammates and coaches, and the retirement of Marshall's uniform No. 70.
When Marshall took the field as a rookie for Cleveland on Sept. 25, 1960, it was the first in his streak of 282 consecutive games played. In his 20 seasons, Jim Marshall never missed a game.
Marshall was traded to the expansion Minnesota Vikings in 1961. He played in every game in Vikings history through 1979, including 20 playoff games. He also competed in two Pro Bowls for a career total of 304 consecutive games. His streak ended almost 20 years ago at New England's Foxboro Stadium on Dec. 16, 1979.
"He had great enthusiasm," says Marshall's former head coach Bud Grant. "Nobody enjoyed playing football more than Jim Marshall. He enjoyed practice. He enjoyed the locker room. He enjoyed being a football player."
He enjoyed it all. "I never wanted to miss a game," says Marshall. "It was a thrill for me every time I had an opportunity to go out on the field. I just never wanted to be sitting on the sidelines."
It was Marshall's consistency that impressed Grant.
"Jim is an amazing person," he says. "One of the greatest things to have is durability. If you play every week and practice every day, nobody can take your job."
Marshall's 20 seasons played ties Jackie Slater for third all-time, his 19 seasons with Minnesota rank second all-time for most seasons with one club (Slater, 20, L.A.-St. Louis Rams), and his 282 total games played are second all-time behind George Blanda's 340. But it is his 282 consecutive games record that may never be broken.
"Jim had the good fortune to pick good parents," says Grant. "While some people would miss three weeks with a sprained ankle, Jim would miss one day. He bent but never broke."
Marshall was injured or sick numerous times during the streak, but according to Grant, the NFL's Iron Man played better when he was under the weather.
"The trainer would say to me, 'Marshall has a 105-degree fever,'" says Grant. "I'd say, 'Great,' because he would invariably have a great game. He played better when he was hurt because he focused on not letting the injury get the better of him.
"Many times people ask coaches who their greatest player was. It's normally very hard to choose, but I don't hesitate to say Jim Marshall."
MOST CONSECUTIVE GAMES PLAYED, NFL HISTORY
Jim Marshall 282
Mick Tingelhoff 240
Jim Turner 228
Jim Bakken 234
George Blanda/John Hadl 224
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