Justice Alan Page has quite the list of honors to his name.
The former Vikings defensive tackle is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well as the College Football Hall of Fame. Page was the first African-American judge to serve on Minnesota's Supreme Court. In 2017, a Minneapolis school changed its name to Justice Page Middle School after a student-led campaign.
Now, Page has been named one of seven Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients.
The White House announced Saturday that President Donald Trump will bestow the United States' top civilian honor in a ceremony on Nov. 16.
In addition to Page, other figures to be recognized are Hall of Fame pitcher Babe Ruth, Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Miriam Adelson, rock-and-roll legend Elvis Presley and late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away in 2016.
According to Emily Cochrane of the New York Times, the practice was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, who "sought to broaden the Medal of Freedom to include the arts or athletic and academic accomplishments and to allow only the president to confer it."
Page, who played for the Vikings from 1967-78 and was part of the feared "Purple People Eaters," accepted the award in true Page fashion, deflecting the honor from himself and instead crediting many others for their roles in his accomplishments, including his late wife, Diane Sims Page, who passed away Sept. 29.
The following are excerpts of Page's letter on the Page Education Foundation website:
It is an honor to have been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But as I have said on a number of occasions in the past, I'm never quite sure that I am worthy of such recognition.
When I look at the list of the Medal's previous recipients, I ask myself, how did my name come to be included with icons of the civil rights movement like Rosa Parks or people like Dr. Robert Coles who spent his life documenting the effects of poverty on children? I conclude the honor is not really about me.
It is about the things that Diane and I have believed in and fought for during our lives. It is about creating educational opportunity for all children. It is about trying to create equal justice under law, a promise that we, as a nation have not always kept.
It is about trying to be people of good character: being honest, telling the truth, saying what we mean and meaning what we say, treating others with respect and respecting ourselves all while trying to figure out the difference between right and wrong and then doing what is right.
It is about understanding that truth and honesty are inextricably intertwined with trust and that without trust we, as a people, have nothing.
It is about trying to fight invidious discrimination in all of its forms and treating people fairly, without regard to their immutable characteristics. It is about creating hope and opportunity for a better tomorrow for everyone.
It is also about leading an intentional life.
Page went on to credit "those known and unknown, on whose shoulders I have been allowed to stand."
"That includes those who came to this country in the belly of slave ships," Page wrote, "some of whom were my ancestors and whose labor was used to make the bricks used to construct the original White House."
Page thanked his parents and family members as well as significant civil rights activists who helped pave the way before him, as well as former Vikings teammates Jim Marshall, Carl Eller, Gary Larsen, Paul Dickson, former Vikings and Bears General Manager Jim Finks and former Executive Director of the NFLPA Ed Garvey "and a host of others from my football life who made it possible for me to achieve in the athletic arena."
And it includes the Minnesota Vikings organization, which has generously supported the Page Education Foundation from its inception.
It includes more than 7,000 Page Scholars whose service is creating hope and changing the future and who are my heroes, as well as the children of Justice Page Middle School who give me hope for the future.
Most important, it includes Diane Sims Page, the love of my life and life partner, a woman whose quest for racial, gender, and social justice knew no bounds and who encouraged, lifted, and allowed me to become more than I might otherwise have been.
(To view Page's letter in its entirety, click here.)