Alan Page earned the highest civilian honor one can have last week when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in Washington, D.C.
On Monday, the Vikings Hall of Fame defensive tackle shared the accomplishment with students at Justice Page Middle School in Minneapolis, which was renamed for the retired Minnesota Supreme Court justice after a student-led campaign.
Faiza Mahamud of the Star Tribune chronicled Page’s day at the school, which included plenty of applause and recognition for Page from students.
Wide-eyed students at Justice Page Middle School in Minneapolis packed the school's auditorium Monday, clapping and cheering loudly as retired Justice Alan Page — their school's namesake and a Minnesota icon — appeared wearing his signature bow tie and a gleaming medal around his neck.
It was a unique teachable moment for the 850 students who had gathered for a school ceremony celebrating Page. He'd just returned from Washington, D.C., to share with them his Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the nation reserves for a civilian. On Friday, the retired state Supreme Court justice and Minnesota Vikings Hall of Famer was presented with the award by President Donald Trump. Page earned it for his career accomplishments and charitable work through the Page Education Foundation, which has given out more than $15 million in scholarships to nearly 7,000 Minnesota students of color in the past 30 years.
"Each one of you has the ability to be sitting here doing the same thing that I'm doing down the road," Page told the students.
Mahamud added there was a bittersweet feeling in the air, however, as Page put a red rose on an empty chair in the front row of the auditorium to remember Diane Sims Page, his late wife who passed away less than two months ago.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom "signifies the work Diane and I have done over the years to do what we need to do to ensure educational opportunities for all children," Page said Monday. "It signifies the work that we have done to ensure equal justice under the law."
Page was honored multiple times Monday, including by local government officials.
At the ceremony, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey presented a proclamation from Gov. Mark Dayton declaring Nov. 19 as "Justice Page Day." A few days ago, the governor also declared Nov. 14 as "Diane Sims Page Day."
In addition to the surprise declaration, school leaders announced 17 Justice Page Middle schoolers as winners of the new Junior Page Scholar Program. The educational program, modeled after the Page Education Foundation's program for high school graduates, is designed to give students leadership opportunities while priming them for college. The scholars will also have monthly lunch meetings with Page.
Page, a first-round pick by Minnesota in 1967, played 11-plus seasons with the Vikings. He was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
View exclusive images shot by the Vikings team photographers from the Vikings-Bears game on Sunday night at Soldier Field.
Holton Hill listed among NFL’s top prospects
NFL teams are always on the lookout for young players with talent that they can hopefully groom into impact players.
It’s what the Vikings did with Stefon Diggs and Danielle Hunter among others, and they might have another potential standout on their hands.
Rivers McCown of ESPN recently released his list of the top 25 NFL prospects a little more than halfway through the 2018 season and had Vikings cornerback Holton Hill on his rankings.
Here was McCown’s breakdown of how he came up with the list.
Some of these players could play their way off the list as their snap counts rise over the final two months of the season, while others might still be fairly unknown when we get to next year's training camp. But all of them are players to watch in the NFL going forward.
The criteria to make this list:
—Third-round pick or lower, or undrafted, from the classes of 2016 to 2018
—500 or fewer offensive or defensive career snaps through Week 10 of 2018 (except running backs, with a maximum of 300 snaps)
—No signed contract extension
—Age 26 or younger
Hill signed with the Vikings in April as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Texas. He showed flashes in training camp and the preseason and made the 53-man roster at the start of the season.
He checked in at 6-foot-1 and 198 pounds at the combine, and he has the length to develop into a terrific press cornerback. He also started for the Longhorns as a true freshman before Tom Herman came to town.
The Vikings have dealt with a lot of cornerback injuries this season, so Hill actually got a chance to jump into the starting lineup in Week 8. Through two weeks as a full-time player, the results have been pretty nice. Hill has allowed just 5.6 yards per pass and has limited opposing receivers to 0.8 yards after the catch, per Sports Info Solutions' charting. Like any rookie, he's bound to give up some big plays early — cornerbacks are the position most likely to look bad on the field — but he also has a ceiling that most undrafted players can't come close to.
Hill has one interception so far in 2018 while playing 140 defensive snaps (21.54 percent) for Minnesota.