Jim Marshall played defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings from 1961 to 1979 and set a career record for consecutive starts at 270. That’s pretty much the first paragraph in the Marshall entry on Wikipedia. He’s the man Brett Favre passed to become the current record holder at 297.
Scroll down a bit and the item that defined Marshall’s legacy can be found. He is the Wrong Way Viking. Or at least that’s how I found him when I went looking for one of the most infamous video clips in NFL history on YouTube. In a game against the San Francisco 49ers in 1964, Marshall picked up a fumble and ran for what he thought was a touchdown. He even tossed the ball in the air and out of play after crossing the goal line, which actually secured the play as a safety and two points for the 49ers. (The Vikings still won the game, 27-22). If you’ve ever watched a sports bloopers collection on VHS, you’ve seen it.
Because of TV and NFL Films and by now Wikipedia and YouTube, Marshall’s split second lapse in sense of direction will be watched and marveled at for as long as civilization retains its ability to watch things that have been recorded.
But Marshall didn’t let it define him.
I was reminded of this incident while listening to the audiobook “Mindset” by Carol Dweck (I’m in this cool book club where we listen to books and converse about them over email and text and such; it’s the way to do a book club). Dweck, championing the “growth mindset” and shunning the “fixed mindset,” points out how Marshall, if he had been fixed-minded, would have been crippled by the embarrassing moment. Instead, Dweck writes, he used a growth-oriented mindset when he determined to play his ass off in the second half to make up for the blunder. As stated, he went on to play for the Vikings for 15 more seasons.
What’s more, he was second-team All Pro in 1964 and made the Pro Bowl in 1968 and 1969.
We’re all going to fail at some point. And we’re all going to have the most embarrassing moment of our lives. We don’t really get to choose the magnitude of the failure or embarrassment.
But we can choose how we respond to it.
Photo via spokeo.
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