From 1967 through 1981, Alan Page established himself as one of the most dominant defensive linemen in NFL history with the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears. The epicenter of the infamous "Purple People Eaters" defense, Page went to nine straight Pro Bowls, played in four Super Bowls, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988, and his NFL MVP award in 1971 was a truly revolutionary moment for the recognition of the defensive player in general.
That said, the 67-year-old Page is even more proud of his post-football life, and the legacy he's leaving. A Notre Dame graduate, he found that NFL offseasons gave him time to complete his legal education. After working as an attorney for years following his retirement from football, Page was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992.
"It's almost not even fair to call it work," Page recently told Yahoo! Sports about his time as a jurist. "Everything about it is so challenging, and I find that fun. I find a great deal of satisfaction in the process of creating an opinion."
As one might expect, Page's time in the NFL does inform his current profession.
"When I talk about analyzing problems, that's what you do on a football field. It's the same thing in respect to what we do as a court."
A specific sensitivity to injustice informs many of his legal opinions; it is the backbone of his personal and professional decision-making process. Page has a large collection of Jim Crow-era artifacts in his home to remind him of past injustices.
"Signs like these are a reminder that we haven't always been fair as a people," Page said of one of the segregation signs in his collection. "We haven't always provided equal justice, we haven't always provided due process, and I believe that we as a society can't afford to forget."
Another key focus in the Hall of Famer's post-football life is education, which Page described as "a tool that anyone can use to make their future better."
Page knows of what he speaks, but the road to his complete education wasn't always easy.
"I wasn't as committed to it as I needed to be," he recalled of early struggles in law school. "I can remember going to that first class, having read some 4-500 pages, and not understanding one thing that the professor was talking about. What I didn't realize was that nobody else understood what he was talking about, either.
"In reality, I was in the very beginning stages of learning the process. The second time, I loved every minute of it."
Now, he's putting his money where his heart is -- into the idea of paying it forward for deserving students. In the 25 years of its existence, The Page Education Foundation has awarded over 5,000 scholarships, and those people have mentored more than 350,000 people. It is a requirement of the program that everyone receiving a scholarship must mentor a younger student.
"Mentorship works well because regardless of what you're doing in life, you're never really doing anything on your own," said Andre Creighton, one of those Page Scholars.
Page learned it when he was demolishing opposing quarterbacks with Jim Marshall, Carl Eller, and Gary Larsen on that all-time front four, and he's built on that concept with his fellow judges.
Few NFL players, past or present, can look back on a richer life.
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