Paul Dickson, an original member of the Minnesota Vikings with an important tie to the Purple People Eaters, passed away on Tuesday. He was 74.
A 13-year NFL veteran and Texas native, Dickson spent 10 seasons (1961-70) with the Vikings after being drafted 9th overall by the Rams in 1959. It took a couple of trades, but Dickson eventually found his way onto the inaugural Vikings team after he came to Minnesota via trade from Cleveland with legendary DT Jim Marshall.
“He was a great person and an excellent player,” Jim Marshall said to Phil Miller of the Star Tribune in this piece summarizing Dickson’s life.
Miller writes that Dickson started alongside Marshall for 6 seasons in the Vikings early years, with Marshall playing right end and Dickson playing right tackle. Dickson and Marshall were close friends largely because they shared similar interests off the field and a similar style of play on the field.
“He would play like he was angry, but he really wasn’t. It scared the rookies,” Marshall said. “But he was a great guy, a practical joker. A good teammate.”
Dickson, who earned the nickname “The Growler,” was drafted as an offensive lineman in ’59 but the Vikings moved him to DT in ’61. Eventually the Vikings had Marshall, Carl Eller, Gary Larsen and Alan Page as starters along the defensive line, a unit known as the Purple People Eaters. But Dickson remained a valuable part of the defense and of the defensive line as a backup. In his piece for the Star Tribune, Miller also spoke with legendary Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant about his former player.
“He accepted that role, and made sure he was a really valuable member of that team,” said Grant. “I don’t know if we could have found a better player behind those guys. He practiced so hard every day, and got some important minutes in. Good under pressure.”
For more on Dickson and the details of his funeral arrangements, check out Miller’s piece by clicking here.
Tags: Bud Grant, Jim Marshall, Paul Dickson, Purple People Eaters
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