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February 23, 2015

Paul Krause Minnesota Vikings helmet, 1975

Filed under: What's New — Lori Williamson @ 2:45 pm

He dreamed of being a big league baseball player, but destiny had other plans for Minnesota Vikings legend Paul Krause.  In the early 1960s the Flint, Michigan native was a two-sport star at the University of Iowa, excelling at both baseball and football.  A dozen major league teams had their eye on the gifted outfielder, but a shoulder injury sustained in a gridiron match against Michigan permanently damaged his throwing arm. The 6’3” Krause refocused on football, playing defensive back for the Hawkeyes starting in 1962.  Blessed with remarkable athleticism and an uncanny ability to read the opposing offense, Krause made 12 pass interceptions in his final two seasons.

Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1964, Krause finished his inaugural season in the NFL with a league-leading 12 interceptions and was a close second in the voting for Rookie of the Year. Krause played four seasons with Washington, racking up 28 interceptions before being traded to the Minnesota Vikings in 1968.  “In 1968, we decided to go almost exclusively to the zone, which was a radical change in the league,” recalled Vikings head coach Bud Grant.  “What we really needed was an intelligent, far-ranging free safety with great hands; in other words, a super athlete.  After surveying the league, we decided that Paul Krause had all those qualities.”

Toiling alongside a celebrated defensive line dubbed the Purple People Eaters, Krause wielded his masterful talent for anticipating plays and became one of the league’s most intimidating safeties. “I try to keep everything in front of me,” he explained, “watching the quarterback, the movement of the backs and the flow of the linemen.”  Krause spent 12 seasons with the Vikings, appearing in three Super Bowls and six Pro Bowls, and retired in 1979 as the NFL’s all-time interception leader with 81 steals. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.

Adam Scher, Senior Objects Curator

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