Gold Jacket Spotlight: Alan Page Puts Spotlight on Education
From the moment Alan Page stepped onto a football field as a member of the Minnesota Vikings, he began compiling impressive statistics and awards.
When he retired, among those numbers and honors were:
- Zero games missed in 237 opportunities over 15 seasons in the National Football League
- Four Super Bowl appearances
- Almost 150 career sacks
- Nine Pro Bowl seasons
- Six times as a first-team All-Pro
- NFL’s Most Valuable Player (1971)
- Member of the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1970s
- NFL 100 All-Time Team member
None of those achievements and accolades meant much to Alan at the time, and even less in the decades since he last played a game in the NFL.
Alan, who this week steps into the Gold Jacket Spotlight, would rather talk about these statistics:
- 33 years directing the Page Education Foundation, the first 30 with his wife, Diane, who passed away in 2018.
- Almost $16 million in Page Grants awarded to more than 7,700 Page Scholars.
- Nearly 500,000 hours of volunteer service from the Page Scholars to their communities across Minnesota.
- More than 50,000 children affected through peer-to-peer tutoring by Page Scholars.
Alan’s parents emphasized the importance of education from his early childhood growing up in Canton, Ohio, years before the Pro Football Hall of Fame sprouted from the ground a short distance from his boyhood home. (He worked a summer job with a crew building the Hall in the early 1960s, giving him the distinction of being the only enshrinee who helped with the Museum’s construction.)
“Both of my parents spent a lot of time talking to all of us kids about the fact that if we were going to have a better life than they had, then we had to be educated,” Alan told NFL Films long after he had retired from the Game.
Alan graduated from the University of Notre Dame and while still playing for the Vikings in the mid-1970s entered law school at the University of Minnesota. He received his juris doctorate in 1978.
Concluding his playing career in 1981, Alan was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988, his second year of eligibility. In delivering his Enshrinement Speech, he emphasized education, stating: “On this occasion, I ask myself, ‘What contribution can I still make that would be truly worthy of the outpouring of warmth and good feelings as I have received today?’ And the answer, for me, is clear: to help give other children the chance to achieve their dreams.”
Alan spoke more than 1,600 words from the steps of the Hall. Here are a few other “statistics” from that speech – key words and the number of times he used them:
- Children, 17
- School, 11
- Educate/education, 11
- Read/reading, 7
- Football, 6
His presenter that afternoon reflected his priorities. Dr. Willarene Beasley, a Minnesota school principal, warmed up the crowd for what was to come.
“Sports must be used as an incentive for young people to get an education and not as a substitute,” she said. “Alan warns, ‘Do not major in football. Play the sport. It is good to play the sport, but learn to read and to write and to develop marketable skills.’ If a student can be a winner in sports, a student can be a winner in education.”
After several years as a practicing attorney, Alan won an election for an open seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1993, then was re-elected three times. He vacated the seat in 2015, when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70. He has remained active with his Foundation and as a speaker, advocating for greater equality in the education system and fairness in the justice system.