He gained national recognition as a defensive tackle in the National Football League (NFL) during 15 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, and then embarked on a legal career. Page earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Notre Dame in 1967 and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1978. He served as an associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1993 until he reached the court's mandatory retirement age of 70 in 2015. Page was the first defensive player to win the MVP Award and only Lawrence Taylor has done it since. He is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame (1993) and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1988), and is considered one of the greatest defensive linemen ever to play the game. In 2018, President Donald Trump awarded Page the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Page was born and raised in Canton, Ohio. His parents stressed the importance of education and of doing his best regardless of what others did. His mother died when he was 13. Page said he wanted to become a lawyer when he was a child.
Page graduated from Canton Central Catholic High School in 1963, where he starred in several sports and excelled in football. He worked on a construction team that erected the Pro Football Hall of Fame, laying the groundwork for the building in which he would one day be enshrined.
Page was presented with one of the 1992 Silver Anniversary Awards (NCAA) for achieving personal distinction since his graduation. In 1993, he was inducted into College Football Hall of Fame. In 2005, he was awarded the National Football Foundation Distinguished American Award.
In 1967, Page participated in the East-West Shrine Game and 25 years later received the "Babe Hollingbery" Award for his performance as he was inducted to that game's Hall of Fame. Page was named to the Academic All-American Hall of Fame in 2001 and as such received the Dick Enberg Award. Page also won the Walter Camp Alumni of the Year award in 1988.
Page was a first round selection (15th overall) in the 1967 NFL/AFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, for whom he played for 11 seasons, through 1977. He is one of 11 Vikings to have played in all four Super Bowls (IV, VIII, IX, XI) in which the team appeared. Page joined the Chicago Bears in 1978 and played there for four seasons and amassed an additional 40 sacks.
As a right defensive tackle, Page had an unusual 3-point stance, placing his left rather than his right hand on the ground. During his 15-year career, the Vikings won four conference titles and one league championship. Page was a member of the Vikings' "Purple People Eaters," a defensive line adept at sacking or hurrying the quarterback. Page played in 218 consecutive games without an absence (215 consecutive in the starting line-up), during which he recovered 22 fumbles, made 148½ sacks (Vikings-108½, Bears-40), and scored three touchdowns (two on fumble recoveries and one on an interception return). He also had three safeties, the second most in NFL history. He set a career-high with 18 sacks in 1976 and is unofficially credited with five other seasons of 10 sacks or more.
While in the NFL, Page earned All-Pro honors six times and made second-team all-league three additional times. He was voted to nine consecutive Pro Bowls. He was voted All-Conference 11 times, in 1968 and 1969 as All-Western Conference and in 1970 through 1977 and 1980 as an All-National Football Conference.
In 1971 Page was named both the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year (the first player to be named such) and the AP's NFL Most Valuable Player. Page was the first defensive player to be named MVP since the award's inception. Only one other defensive player, Lawrence Taylor, has ever received the award. Page was also voted the NEA NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1973. In 2019 Page was chosen as a member of the NFL's 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.
NFL player representative
Page was National Football League Players Association player representative from 1970 to 1974 and in 1976–1977, and a member of the NFLPA Association Executive Committee from 1972 to 1975. He was named to the Vikings' 40th Anniversary Team in 2000. Along the way, Page was named the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Week three times: Week 9, 1967; Week 8, 1968; Week 13, 1971. In 1988 Page was further honored by his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 1999, he was ranked number 34 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, the highest-ranking Viking player. He received the NFL Alumni Career Achievement Award in 1995 for attaining success in his post-NFL career.
After his playing career he dabbled in the media, first as a commentator on Turner Broadcasting System covering the College Football Game of the Week series during the Fall of 1982 and then as a commentator on National Public Radio in 1982–1983.
Long before Page's football career came to a close, he was laying the groundwork for his future role as a justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. While still playing for the Vikings, Page attended the University of Minnesota Law School, from which he received a Juris Doctor in 1978. After graduating, he worked at the Minneapolis law firm Lindquist and Vennum from 1979 to 1984 outside the football season. Page was appointed Special Assistant Attorney General in 1985, and soon thereafter promoted to Assistant Attorney General.
In 1992, Page was elected to an open seat as an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, becoming the first African-American to serve on that court. He was reelected in 1998 (becoming the biggest vote-getter in Minnesota history), again in 2004, and for a final time in 2010: Minnesota has mandatory retirement for judges at the end of the month in which they turn 70.
Page said, "To me the law is about solving problems and helping people."
Personal life, community work and other activities
Alan and Diane Sims Page were married from 1973 until her death in 2018. They met while she was working for General Mills and he was playing for the Minnesota Vikings. In 1988, the Pages founded the Page Education Foundation. It provides financial and mentoring assistance to students of color in exchange for those students’ commitment to further volunteer service in the community, an idea suggested by their daughter Georgi. The Page Education Foundation has awarded grants to more than 7,500 students, who in turn have given more than 475,000 hours of their own time to young children. Upon his retirement from the bench, Page plans to continue the foundation's work, and find other ways to encourage students of color to be successful in school, especially by developing critical thinking skills.
Page and his daughter Kamie Page have written four children's books: Alan and His Perfectly Pointy Impossibly Perpendicular Pinky (2013), The Invisible You (2014), Grandpa Alan's Sugar Shack (2017), and Bee Love (Can Be Hard) (2020). Proceeds from the sales of these books support the Page Education Foundation. Page is the subject of the authorized biography All Rise: The Remarkable Journey of Alan Page (2010).
Page has a passion for running and runs on a regular basis. In 1979, he became the first active NFL player to complete a marathon. His running routine, which he took up while helping his wife quit smoking, is believed to have contributed to his dismissal from the Minnesota Vikings. His running schedule of 35–40 miles per week during the season, and 55 miles per week in the offseason, caused his weight to drop below that dictated by the Vikings.
Page owns an extensive collection of Jim Crow-related memorabilia. He appeared in a 2012 Minnesota-filmed episode of PBS's Antiques Roadshow with an 1865 banner mourning the death of Abraham Lincoln. In 2018, items in his collection were exhibited at the Minneapolis Central Library, coinciding with Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
In June 2017, after a campaign initiated by students at Alexander Ramsey Middle School in Minneapolis, the school's name was changed to Justice Page Middle School.
In January 2020, Page and Neel Kashkari proposed amending a portion of the Minnesota State Constitution to read, "All children have a fundamental right to a quality education that fully prepares them".
On October 30, 2020, the North St. Paul/Maplewood/Oakdale School District (ISD 622) announced a new elementary school to be built at 2410 Holloway Avenue in Maplewood will be named Justice Alan Page Elementary School, scheduled to open in September 2022.
Professional accolades and memberships
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- Member, American Law Institute, 1993–present
- Member, Minnesota State Bar Association, 1979–1985, 1990–present
- Member, Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, 1980–present
- Member, National Bar Association, 1979–present
- Member, American Bar Association, 1979–present
- Member, Advisory Board, Mixed Blood Theater, 1984–present
- Founder, Page Education Foundation, 1988. Assists minority youth with post-secondary education.
- Member, Board of Regents, University of Minnesota, 1989–1993
- Helped establish Kodak/Alan Page Challenge, a nationwide essay contest encouraging urban youth to recognize the value of education.
- Member, Institute of Bill of Rights Law Task Force on Drug Testing in the Workplace, 1990–1991
- Board of Directors, Minneapolis Urban League, 1987–1990
- List of consecutive starts by National Football League players
- Purple People Eaters
- List of American professional sports figures who held elective office
- Litke, James (November 25, 1981). "Alan Page: leaving 23 years behind isn't easy". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. p. 1C.
- "Wall Street Cheat Sheet, "The Greatest Defensive Linemen of All Time."". Archived from the original on January 30, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
- Boren, Cindy (November 16, 2018). "Medal of Freedom honoree Alan Page will put aside his feelings about Trump". The Washington Post.
- Former Minn. Supreme Court Justice Alan Page on life, education, football and the law, Minnesota Public Radio. May 16, 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 1, 2007. Retrieved May 1, 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- startribune.com Archived February 2, 2009, at the Wayback Machine,
- purplepride.org Archived May 2, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- chicagobears.com Archived February 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- "Alan C. Page". Minnesota State Law Library. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
- "Top justice won't pick Minn. Senate lawsuit judges". Minnesota Public Radio. January 7, 2009. Retrieved January 7, 2009.
- "Diane Sims Page, revered philanthropist and wife of Alan Page, dies at 74". twincities.com. October 2, 2018.
- "Diane & Alan Page's storybook began with chance meeting". Minnesota Vikings. December 17, 2017.
- "Alan Page leaving Supreme Court to focus on youth". Twin Cities Pioneer Press. April 4, 2015. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
- "All Rise". www.triumphbooks.com. Retrieved December 29, 2019.
- Martz, Ron. "A lineman who runs and runs". St. Petersburg Times. October 22, 1978
- Ward, Bill (August 3, 2007). "Going on the offensive" (PDF). Minneapolis Star Tribune. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 11, 2012. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
- Olson, Mark W. (May 7, 2012). "Behind the scenes at Antiques Roadshow". Chaska Herald. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
- "Alan Page exhibits slavery artifacts in time for Super Bowl". USA Today. January 31, 2018. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
- "Rename Ramsey". Justice Page School. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
- "Alan Page Receives Presidential Medal Of Freedom". November 16, 2018. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
- "Minneapolis Fed calls for constitutional amendment to tackle education disparities". MPR News. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
- "Name selected! Justice Alan Page Elementary School". ISD622.org. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
- Alan Page at the Pro Football Hall of Fame
- Alan Page at the College Football Hall of Fame
- Career statistics and player information from NFL.com · Pro Football Reference
- Appearances on C-SPAN
Lawrence R. Yetka
| Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court