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On This Date in Sports December 16, 1979

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Jim Marshall of the Minnesota Vikings plays his final game, a 27-23 loss to the New England Patriots at Schaefer Stadium. Marshall a member of the famed “Purple People Eaters” and a four-time pro bowler was the last of the of the original Vikings still active in the NFL. In fact, for the franchise’s first 19 years Jim Marshall started every game for the Vikings, establishing a new NFL record for 270 straight starts.

Jim Marshall was born in Wilsonville, Kentucky on December 30, 1937. After attending Ohio State, Marshall who left before his senior season played a year in the CFL with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1959. A year later he joined the Cleveland Browns, who selected him in the fourth round with the 44th overall pick. After one season in Cleveland, Marshall was traded to the expansion Minnesota Vikings for a pair of draft picks.

It was in Minnesota, that Jim Marshall found stardom, starting at Defensive End for the first game the Vikings ever played on September 17, 1961. That day the Vikings stunned the Chicago Bears 37-13 at Metropolitan Stadium, beginning a long purple reign in the Twin Cities. Marshall’s most memorable play in the early part of his career came in 1964 when he picked up a fumble and ran it the wrong way into the end zone for a safety against the San Francisco 49ers. Despite the gaffe, the Vikings won that game 27-22. Soon the Vikings and Marshall were winning, as they became won the NFL Championship in 1969, but suffered a stunning loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV. The Vikings would lose three more Super Bowls, with Jim Marshall as member Vikings famed front four defense along with Carl Eller, Allan Page and Gary Larsen who together were called the “Purple People Eaters”.

For every one of the Minnesota Vikings, first 270 games Jim Marshall was a starter at Defensive End. Despite a stellar career, Marshall has yet to earn induction in the Hall of Fame. The 270 straight starts, remains the record for a defensive player and has only been topped by quarterback Brett Favre who started every game from 1992-2010, playing with the Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings to establish the new record at 297 straight starts.