The Vikings have quite the lineup – 11 players who spent most of their careers in Minnesota plus Head Coach Bud Grant and General Manager Jim Finks – in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
If you ask Grant, however, one highly deserving individual hasn't yet received his gold jacket: former defensive end Jim Marshall.
Mark Craig of the Star Tribune *recently spoke with both Grant and Marshall* **about Marshall's career on the gridiron, his life after football and what it would mean to receive those votes. Grant, who remains a consultant with the Vikings, said that Marshall's absence from the Hall of Fame is "one of the big injustices of football."
To Grant, Marshall is a cornerstone of Vikings football.
"There's a picture of [Marshall] that I have that says it all," Grant told Craig. "He's standing on the football field. Everything's all muddy. It's snowing. And Jim's got that look. He represented the Vikings better than any player we've ever had. He and Mick [Tingelhoff]. The absolute cornerstone of the Minnesota Vikings. That's Jim Marshall."
While Tingelhoff was inducted in 2015, Marshall is still patiently waiting to see if he might get the nod. Grant told Craig that he's willing to do "whatever it takes" to put in a good word to voters for his former player.
"I love Jim Marshall," Grant told Craig. "He's one of the most unique guys I ever coached. When I talk about him, it won't be a bunch of baloney, either. I haven't done this a lot. I haven't stepped up to this degree, so I think the credibility is there."
While Marshall would certainly be overwhelmed with gratitude to be inducted, he said it's not something he revolves his life around.
Marshall said that he saw the induction "change Carl Eller's life" in 2004, but Marshall isn't sure that it would have the same effect for him.
"I can't figure out how in the world it would change my life other than it would be good for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to see," Marshall told Craig. "But it definitely would be a good thing and, surely, I would faint.
"When you see your name there and you have high hopes and then you don't get in, of course it creates a lot of anxiety," Marshall later added. "But I don't particularly like giving in to that feeling. I'm a guy who loves life. I'm not mad. I love living."
NFL.com tabs Vikings 2017 WR corps as 'most underrated'
NFL.com writer Conor Orr started brainstorming after hearing a statement by a Bears receiver that Chicago has an underrated receiving corps. Orr wrote:
Which teams might actually boast the most underrated receiving groups in the NFL as we head toward training camp?
Orr listed five teams whom he believes fit this bill, with the Vikings topping the list.
He highlighted Stefon Diggs (84 catches, 903 yards, three touchdowns), Adam Thielen (69 catches, 967 yards, five touchdowns) and Laquon Treadwell (1 catch for 15 yards) as Minnesota's "top returning targets." Orr wrote:
The Vikings led the league last year in cumulative catch percentage for a wide receiver. The intermediate air attack was definitely a contributing factor, but attributing that mark solely to the team's dink-and-dunk system doesn't fairly account for the fact that Diggs and Thielen (who caught 75 percent of the balls thrown their way) both adjusted to a new quarterback post-camp and a new offensive coordinator after just a few weeks … With an entire offseason under his belt as OC, [Pat] Shurmur should be able to make the most of Treadwell's first-round talent.
Following the Vikings on Orr's list were the Chargers (Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Keenan Allen); the Colts (T.Y. Hilton, Phillip Dorsett, Donte Moncrief); the Seahawks (Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jermaine Kearse); and the Saints (Michael Thomas, Willie Snead, Brandon Coleman).
The Vikings are slated to host the Saints on *Monday Night Football *on Sept. 11 to open the 2017 season.
Taylor Heinicke looking to compete for QB 2 position
One of the several intriguing position battles that can be expected at training camp next month is the one for backup quarterback.
Taylor Heinicke is returning for the Vikings, and they signed Case Keenum in free agency.
Tim Yotter caught up with Heinicke, who missed all of last season with a foot injury. Yotter wrote:
With veteran Shaun Hill gone, Heinicke will be hoping for a roster spot and perhaps even trying to apply the pressure to free-agent signee Case Keenum for the backup spot below starter Sam Bradford.
"Every day I come in and do my best. I know [Keenum] does the same. I think what's really cool about us two is we really learn from each other," Heinicke told Yotter. "There's a lot of things he does better than me and I try to emulate him on that, and he might say the same about me. We really try to help each other and make each other better. At the end of the day, that's what we're really doing – trying to get better every day."