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In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, something laid low Purple People Eater Jim Marshall.

When the famed Vikings defensive lineman couldn't shake the bug, we decided to do this interview over the phone because I don't want to catch what's kept him in bed. "This has been one of the worst kind of years when it's real cold and then it warms up and then you go back to the real cold stuff," said Marshall. Having been in party settings with Marshall, who still draws a crowd despite retiring in 1979, I am blaming one of his adoring fans for giving him whatever this was.

Q: Do you get tired of answering questions about the wrong-way run or losing four Super Bowls?

A: Well, yes I do. But you know, it's a fan's privilege to ask you whatever questions are important to them.

Q: So you are basically too nice to tell people in the media, I don't want to talk about this anymore?

A: [Laughter] Yeah. Even though it's embarrassing, it's a part of my life. I've always been willing to stand up for the things that I do and answer to the consequences. So. [Deep sigh] I take all that in stride.

Q: When after a tackle there's big pile of football players, how much pinching and grabbing goes on underneath to free the ball?

A: Pinching and grabbing is for girls. [Laughter] Guys are down there with elbows and fists trying to knock that ball out to get it. It's a bad situation up under the pile. There's not pinching and poking. Everybody wants that ball.

Q: Can you tell the difference between your football injuries and the stuff that just happens over time?

A: Ah, yes.

Q: Your wife, Susan, agrees with me, you are the cutest Purple People Eater.

A: Aw, that's nice of her to say that. I think she's the cutest everything. She's my baby.

Q: I've seen you in social settings and people glom onto you. How does your wife handle the fact that you're kind of catnip to the ladies?

A: [Laughter] Oh, she laughs at it. She gets her share of admirers, too. So we just laugh at it.

Q: Did you almost have a heart attack during the last 10 seconds of the Saints game?

A: No. I was sitting there saying, "They're going to win. They'll pull this out." I just had that feeling.

Q: What was Saints player Marcus Williams trying to do when he missed Stefon Diggs?

A: He was coming in to kind of roll-tackle him. You roll your body under somebody's legs. It was really funny because he was a little early with his roll, which gave Diggs time to catch the ball, plant and score. As far as Diggs was concerned, that was a right-on play. He was very conscious of what was going on on the field. He took advantage of a situation that was there.

Q: So what happened in Philadelphia?

A: The team that fought so hard in the Saints game didn't show up in Philadelphia. I never criticize the Vikings; after playing for them for 20 years I've learned never to criticize what happens on the field. It just happens.

Q: What's easier, losing a conference championship game or losing a Super Bowl?

A: It's never easy losing. I don't care what level it is. I don't like to lose at anything. I don't like to lose at marbles, I don't like to lose pitching pennies.


Q: How do you spend your time?

A: I read a lot. I'm going through reading line by line the definitions of the 23rd Psalm. I have another book on the Lord's Prayer. I have books that have to do with space, time. You start trying to figure out all of that stuff when you're getting close to time for you to go, you know.

Q: Are you a very religious person?

A: I wouldn't call myself very religious. I'm a very inquisitive person who looks at religion as a part of my life. I grew up Southern Baptist. That's instilled in you in the womb. My mother [and dad were] in the church all the time. I had a Christian upbringing.

C.J. can be reached at cj@startribune.com and seen on Fox 9's "Buzz." E-mailers, please state a subject; "Hello" does not count.