Viking Update: The Wrong Way Run
The Wrong Way Run
The Vikings play most known for its ignominy and folly, rather than it's greatness
or bitter sweetness, occurred on October 25, 1964, at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco,
CA during a contest with the 49ers. Vikings DE Jim Marshall, pursuing a scrambling
49ers QB from behind, recovered a fumble and ran with the it in the same direction
he had been pursuing the play toward his own end zone. In other words,
the WRONG way.
Marshall sprinted down the field alone, his teammates unable to get his attention
over the course of 66 yards. When he reached the end zone, Marshall made like
a softball pitcher and underhanded the ball well into the stands, to celebrate
the touchdown he believed he had just scored. Marshall was bewildered when 49ers
center Bruce Bosley arrived in the end zone and said "Thanks, Jim." Suddenly,
Marshall bent over and held his head in his hands, realizing finally what he
had just done.
Years later, in 1994, NFL Films made a video titled "NFL's 100 Greatest Follies"
and listed Marshall's wrong-way run for a safety as number one. Marshall said
in response at the time that he was surprised at the top ranking, but NFL Films
director Steve Sabol said that it wasn't close. NFL Films had polled coaches,
media members, and club officials, and said: "Marshall's run was a lopsided
Marshall, known for his determination which is reflected in his ownership of
the NFL's consecutive games played record, came back from the error to play
a wonderful game, including forcing another fumble that was recovered by DE
Carl Eller and returned for a TD. The Vikings won 27-22, but that was to be
a footnote in history.
36 years later, Marshall has had a tough time sharing in the humor with which
his gaffe has been recalled. "That is something I would rather forget, although
it's not going to happen," Marshall said. "In the years I spent playing football,
trying to play the best I could play, to have that all overshadowed by one play...
it's not the ideal situation."
When asked what people ask him most about that play, Marshall said "The No.
1 question is, 'I've always wondered what you thought at that moment?' And I
say, 'Think of the worst thing you've ever done the thing you're most
ashamed of and it was seen by 80 million people. Then think of people
coming up to you and reminding you of it for the rest of your life. That gives
you a sense of what I've gone through."
Maybe the rest of the football world remembers Jim Marshall for the Wrong-Way
Run, but we Vikings fans know better. We will always remember him for what he
was. The best defensive end in Vikings history, and a major part of a great
defense that came to be known as and is still called "The Purple People Eaters."
1999 Sportz Ink, Inc.
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