Thursday, August 25, 2011

Where Are They Now?


I was thinking about old Viking football players today, for no good reason. As I ran through the names, I began to wonder where they are now. Where do football players end up after their gridiron careers are over? I'll cover a short history of a few of my boyhood heroes.

Carl Eller was one of the original purple people eaters and one of my biggest heroes. He had his share of battles with substance abuse after his career and is now trying to sue the league for it's unfair medical and compensation  of retired players. He still makes an appearance at old-timer homecoming games.

Alan Page, another PPE original has had a very successful career as a Judge on the Minnesota Supreme Court. My mom once saw him on an elevator and thought to herself, I know a boy who used to idolize you. (That would be me.) He doesn't like talking about his playing days much. He'd rather talk about what he's doing right now. A great man.

Jim Marshall was another PPE who, sadly, announced he is battling cancer. He had an amazing career, but most people remember him for his wrong-way run for a safety after recovering a fumble. Too bad because he was an amazing player and a great role model.

Fran Tarkenton, another one of the greats. Went on to do That's Incredible and proved that he was a much better QB than an actor. One of his best passes was the one that went out of bounds to avoid a sack. No one did it better. That and scrambling.

Gary Larsen, one of the original PPE. He once met my sister in Northern Minnesota when she was out to dinner with my mom and dad. I remember she brought him back to the cabin. I shook his hand and thought WOW!

Wally Hilgenberg, a formidable linebacker recently died an early death, related to his multiple concussions. His family donated his brain to scientific research.

Bob Berry, a 3 year backup to Fran Tarkenton now lives in Nevada. Not sure what he's doing.

Chuck Foreman still looks like he could play. He was amazing. Great moves and an excellent receiver out of the backfield. Had a fumbling problem, but when he didn't he was incredible. He's a substitute teacher in MN. Gotta love real guys like that.

Karl Kassulke was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident and never played again. He is deceased.

All of this goes to show you that even someone who is a hero to you as a kid is just another real person who has real problems and eventually has to get a job just like the rest of us. The problem is I carry these names around in my head and their stories, even though they've been out of the game for years. I carry their numbers, their stories (e.g. Jim Marshall once burned twenty dollar bills to keep warm during a snowmobiling outing gone bad.) Why can't I get rid of this and remember things like where I put my glasses?

Blogging off...

1 comment:

Phatty Patty said...

Jim - Gary Larsen called me for about a year after that meeting up north, wanting to go out on a date. I never accepted, always made up some excuse or another, because I just had a gut feeling that he was married. And I'm pretty sure he lied to me about his age,saying he was younger than he was, which is a real turn-off for me. I wonder what he looks like today? Probably bald (not that there's anything wrong with that!), beer gut, and OLD!