Wilber Marshall: HOF Bad Ass

Wilber Marshall was inducted this past weekend into the College Football Hall of Fame, along with 19 others including Troy Aikman, Lou Holtz and Thurman Thomas. This seems like a good time to look back at Wilber’s NFL career and his post NFL days.

Wilber Marshall was an incredible football player. He was fast and he was strong. He could seamlessly move from fighting off big offensive tackles for sacks to covering speedy running backs in pass coverage. He could hit…hit you hard. If you are a younger person and are trying to picture Wilber, picture LaVar Arrington…but a LaVar that actually made all the plays. He was a hybrid of Derrick Brooks and Lawrence Taylor. HE WAS A BAD ASS! Wilber’s 84 sacks/turnovers during his career are more than Hall of Famer’s Jack Ham and Ted Hendricks.

After playing for the Bears from 1984-87, Wilber signed with the Redskins as a free agent. No big deal in today’s game but in 1988 there was no free agency. Wilber was to the NFL what Curt Flood was to baseball. He took on the system and was the first free agent in 11 years to switch teams. The Skins gladly gave up 2 1st round picks for the right to give him a 5 year 5 million dollar deal.

Wilber played those 5 seasons in DC, played in all 80 games over that span. He played hurt, he played well. He roughly averaged 5 sacks, 3 int’s, and 125 tackles a year during that period. WOW! He was a big time player in big time games, he made big plays when they counted.

Wilber retired in 1995 after 12 seasons and 179 games. 2 Super Bowl titles, 3 Pro Bowl appearances and a broken body. Retirement has been a struggle for Wilber. He fought with the NFL for years over disability benefits. Marshall has had or needed the following procedures: both knees and both shoulders replaced, 4 knee surgeries that left the knee bone on bone, fractured both ankles, nerve damage in both hands and wrist, and a compressed spine with bulging discs. He now walks with the aid of a cane, he’s only 47 years old.

I am personally a huge proponent of the players that helped make the NFL what it is today. The guys that played before the billion dollar TV deals and the $100 million dollar player contracts. Players that had to take on 2ND jobs in the NFL off season, players that had to start working a regular 9-5 job the day they retired from the NFL. Players that made the NFL what it is today, a corporation that prints money. The players of yesterday deserve their share. I hope that the players of yesterday continue to fight until they get what they feel is a fair deal for them. I hope that people like Mike Ditka and Gridiron Greats continue to support the players in need.

I am thankful that I got to watch Wilber Marshall play for the Washington Redskins and help them win a Super Bowl title in 1991. So thank you Wilber and congrats on your HOF induction. You’re one of the reasons I’m proud to be a Redskins fan.

Cheers and Hail
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