Alan Page

Former Irish Football Player Alan Page To Receive 2005 Distinguished American Award

May 17, 2005

May 17, 2005

Alan Page, College Football Hall of Famer from the University of Notre Dame and current Minnesota Supreme Court justice, will be the 2005 recipient of the Distinguished American Award, as announced today by Jon F. Hanson, chairman of The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame (NFF).

Established in 1966 and presented on special occasions when a truly deserving individual emerges, the award honors someone who has applied the character building attributes learned from amateur sport in their business and personal life, exhibiting superior leadership qualities in education, amateur athletics, business and in the community. Page will become the award’s 34th recipient, joining a list that includes Vince Lombardi, Bob Hope, Jimmy Stewart, Pete Rozelle and Tom Osborne.

“It is an absolute pleasure to be able to honor Alan Page at our awards dinner 12 years since we last recognized him, when he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame,” Hanson said.

“Not only was he a remarkable athlete, but he continues to tirelessly give back to the community while serving as a Supreme Court justice.”

A Hall of Fame player both in college and the National Football League, Page’s greatest contributions have come as a Minnesota Supreme Court justice and founder of the Page Education Foundation, which encourages Minnesota’s youth of color to continue their education.

Page graduated from Central Catholic High School in Canton, Ohio, and from the University of Notre Dame, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1967. At Notre Dame, he led the football team to a national championship in 1966 and a 25-3-2 mark from 1964 to 1966. A first-round NFL draft pick and 15th selection overall, he went on to collect 164 career sacks, block 28 punts or placekicks, recover 24 fumbles and appear in eight Pro Bowls in a professional football career that spanned 15 seasons, including 10 as a member of the Minnesota Vikings and five with the Chicago Bears.

In 1971, the four-time National Football Conference defensive player of the year became the first defensive player in NFL history to earn the league’s most valuable player award. Page was selected to the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

While playing professional football, Page attended law school full time, earning a Juris Doctor in 1978 from the University of Minnesota. In 1979, he began practicing law with a Minnesota firm. He later became an assistant attorney general, and in 1993 he was sworn in as an associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Page takes great pride in his work with the Page Education Foundation on behalf of the youth in his state. The Foundation, established in 1988 by Page and his wife Diane, provides educational grants to students of color to attend colleges in Minnesota. As a condition of receiving the funds, the so-called Page Scholars serve as role models and mentors for younger children with the simple, if not lofty, goal of changing the future. Thus far, the foundation has awarded more than 5,100 scholarships to 2,393 individual students totaling more than $4.5 million.

“For far too many young men and women of color, education has not been something that they are focused on, but I believe that education can be a tool that can overcome the problems that are associated with discrimination, with poverty, with a whole host of other issues that people of color face. By ensuring that every child has the opportunity to learn and does learn, I think we make the future better for all of us,” Page said.

An NCAA Silver Anniversary Award recipient in 1992, Page has been a member of the National Bar Association since 1979 and currently sits on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents and the board of directors for the Minneapolis Urban League. Since 1980, he has been a member of the Minnesota Minority Lawyers’ Association, and he has served as an advisory board member to the League of Women Voters since 1984. Last January, Page became the 37th recipient of the NCAA Theodore Roosevelt Award, the NCAA’s highest honor.

In the 1970s, Page took up marathon running, and in 1979 he became the first active NFL player to complete a marathon. He currently runs 60 miles a week. He and his wife have four children.

The Distinguished American Award will be presented to Page at The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame’s 48th Annual Awards Dinner, Dec. 6, 2005, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The Awards Dinner is the highlight of the college football season where the 2005 Division I-A Class will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and 15 National Scholar-Athletes will be awarded postgraduate scholarships.

With 119 chapters and over 12,000 members nationwide, The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, a non-profit educational organization, runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in America’s young people. NFF programs include the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., Play It Smart, The NFF Center for Youth Development Through Sport at Springfield College (Mass.), the NFL-NFF Coaching Academy, and annual scholarships of nearly $1 million for college and high school scholar-athletes.