By Lenny Moon
Veteran followers of the National Football League might remember the Minnesota Vikings vaunted “Purple People Eaters” defense that wreaked havoc during the late 60s through the mid 70s. The anchor of that famed contingent was Alan Cedric Page. Although veterans Jim Marshall and Carl Eller were star defensive edge linemen on the team prior to Page’s arrival, the Notre Dame All-American solidified the middle for the next dozen seasons. So much so that the 6-4, 245 tackle earned Pro Bowl honors for nine consecutive campaigns (1968-76), including the NFL MVP in 1971 (uncommon for a defensive player).
It was more than a coincidence that Minnesota had not even merited an NFL Playoff slot unit until Page’s second season in the frozen tundra. Although they were one of the perennial contenders during most of that era, the Bud Grant coached NFC entity consistently had difficulties winning the final game of the season; aka the Super Bowl. During an eight year span (1970-78), the Vikings battled their way into four appearances and were 0-4. The team’s inability to “win the big one” never altered the performance of the Canton OH native as he went on to earn the distinction of 6 First Team All-Pro, 2-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, NFL 1970s All-Decade Team, Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor and Vikings jersey 88 retired among other honors. Page wrapped up his 15-year NFL career with the Chicago Bears where he reunited with his former Minnesota defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan. His crowning moment occurred in 1988 when Page was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Although a dominate player on the gridiron for most of his career, the Notre Dame product was an Academic All-American during his stint in South Bend, Ind. Page attended the University of Minnesota Law School while he was an active player for the Vikings. Additionally, he took on the challenge of serving as a National Football League Players Association player representative for seven seasons and a member of the NFLPA Executive Committee for three campaigns. Having laid the groundwork for his post NFL career, Alan received his Juris Doctor in 1978. In 1992, Page became the first African American to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court where he would ruled until 2010.
Page, along with his late wife Diane Sims Page founded the Page Education Foundation which provides financial and mentoring assistance to students of color in exchange for those students’ commitment to further volunteer in the community. The Page Education Foundation has awarded grants to more than 6,750 students whose volunteer hours have totaled more than 420,000 hours of their mentoring to young children. Along with daughter Kamie, Page has written three children’s books where the proceeds benefit the Page Education Foundation. In November of 2018, the Presidential Medal of Freedom was awarded to Alan Cedric Page.
Page Education Foundation: College Scholarships | Grants
By Lenny Moon