Alan Page was born in 1945, American football player, who in 1971 became the first defensive player to win the National Football Conference (NFC) player of the year award. That year he also shared the National Football League (NFL) most valuable player award with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach. A quick and relentless defensive tackle, Page disrupted games by sacking quarterbacks, recovering fumbles, and blocking kicks. He was the most recognized member of the famed Purple People Eaters—the Minnesota Vikings defensive line that helped the team win four division titles in the 1970s.
Alan Cedric Page was born in Canton, Ohio. As a senior at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, he won All-American honors on a squad that won the 1966 national collegiate championship. Page was the Vikings’ first-round pick in the 1967 NFL draft. He earned a starting position at defensive tackle during his fourth NFL game and remained there until he was traded to the Chicago Bears 11 seasons later.
Page teamed with Jim Marshall, Carl Eller, and Gary Larsen to form one of the most ferocious defensive lines in NFL history. Clad in the Viking team colors of purple, gold, and white, the foursome became known as the Purple People Eaters because they frequently sacked opposing quarterbacks and crushed opponents at the line of scrimmage. The Vikings enjoyed tremendous success with the unit and advanced to the Super Bowl after the 1969, 1973, 1974, and 1976 seasons. The team never won a Super Bowl championship, however.
Page’s success stemmed from intense training (he was the first NFL player to run a marathon) and intelligent play. Instead of lining up immediately at the line of scrimmage, he often hesitated a moment to diagnose the play. During his career he recorded 1431 tackles and 164 sacks, recovered 24 fumbles, and blocked 28 kicks.
Page was traded to the Chicago Bears in 1978 and remained there until he retired at the end of the 1981 season. His career was marked with numerous honors, including All-Pro honors and Pro Bowl nominations for eight consecutive seasons, from 1970 through 1977. After professional football, Page pursued a career in law and was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.