Jim Marshall’s wrong-way run, 55 years later

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Fifty-five years ago today, Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall ran 66 yards with the football. Making the feat somewhat less impressive is the fact that he ran the wrong way.

Marshall, on October 25, 1964, scooped up a fumble from 49ers running back Billy Kilmer (yes, he was a running back at the time) and sprinted toward daylight. Marshall looked around, apparently surprised that no one was chasing him.

No one chased him all the way to the end zone, where he tossed the ball away and scored two points for the 49ers.

The Vikings still won that day, thanks to eight total turnovers from the 49ers. Fortunately, none of the others became safeties scored against the Vikings.

Unfortunately, Jim Marshall never earned a spot in Canton for a career that entailed far much more than one mistake. He played 20 years in the NFL, starting 270 straight games and appearing in 292 consecutive contexts. Both are still records for defensive players.

A member of the famed Purple People Eaters, two of his teammates on the Minnesota defensive line, made it to the Hall of Fame: Alan Page and Carl Eller. Marshall continues to be overlooked; maybe he’ll get a spot in the ill-advised, all-or-nothing mega-class that the Hall of Fame plans to induct next year.

16 responses to “Jim Marshall’s wrong-way run, 55 years later

  1. It’s too bad Marshall seems to be remembered for this one play rather than a stellar player career. He also held the record for most fumble recoveries in a career until recently. He was the last original Viking to retire. Both he and Bobby Bryant (57 career interceptions including postseason) deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame.

  2. I’ve always loved that particular play.
    I can’t think of a better way to illustrate perfectly the dysfunction and direction of that franchise than to boil it down to that single Jim Marshall wrong way run.

  3. Marshall was the heart and soul of the Vikings in the 70’s. He played through some tough injuries and was one of the great characters of the game.

    I just saw a clip of a high school kid intercepting a pass and running it back the wrong way. His teammate caught up to him and tackled him before he got to the end zone.

  4. I agree with fwippel on Marshall, not so much on Bryant.

    One crumby mistake shouldn’t define Marshalls career. The guy was a pro’s pro.

  5. I don’t remember the exact stats, but in that same game, he had something like 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 20 tackles. A career game for most DE’s, but people remember the wrong way run… And that streak?! A defensive end, not a punter! He was the original Iron Man!

  6. The HOF is a joke….if TO can get in, why not this guy? This guy holds numerous records. Put him in!

  7. Does Jim still have bad dreams of Art Shell? Shell erased him from any stats whatsoever in SB XI.Not a single tackle,assist,or sack.At least he wasn’t alone, the rest of the Minnesota D didn’t show up either.

  8. Good thing he did not put the ball down on the end zone, because a 49er can pick up the ball and it will be a touchdown.

  9. Remembered for one mistake! Sad! Same for the career for Sam Darnold for his statement about seeing ghosts.

  10. I would love to see Mr Marshall go into the hall of fame someday,well deserved I believe. Fran Tarkenton said Jim Marshall was the most important player ever to play for the Vikings. Bud Grant always speaks highly of Jim absolutely one of his favorite players. Steve Sabol once said nobody ever played pro football harder and longer than Jim Marshall. Maybe in the end compliments by three men like that is just as important as a gold jacket.

  11. ♫ “He made a connection in the other direction,
    And the crowd started shouting out interjections…” ♫

  12. They say you learn something new everyday. I hope learning that Billy Kilmer had been a running back isn’t the only thing I learn today, but it IS a good nugget.

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