Page, Alan Cedric
Page, Alan Cedric
Alan Cedric Page, former Minnesota Vikings football star, has served as an associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court since 1993. Page gained athletic fame as one of the four "Purple People Eaters" for the Vikings' defense who were essential to the team's ten division titles and four Super Bowl appearances during the 1960s and 1970s. While still employed full-time as a professional football player, Page attended the University of Minnesota Law School full-time and graduated in 1978. He is the first and only African-American supreme court justice in the state of Minnesota.
One of four children of Georgianna Umbles and Howard Felix Page, Alan Page was born on August 7, 1945, in Canton, Ohio, the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His mother, a country club attendant, and his father, a bar manager, always emphasized the importance of learning. They instilled strong values in him, and Page looked up to his parents as role models.
Page was an outstanding athlete in high school, but even at a young age, his aspirations went beyond the gridiron and into the courtroom. Page admired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and was a fan of the Perry Mason television show. He told Parade Magazine in 1990 that he viewed sports not as a goal, but as a means to achieve an education. "Even when I was playing professionally," he said, "I never viewed myself as a football player. There's far more to life than being an athlete."
"At the very best, athletic achievement might open a door that discrimination once held shut. But the doors slam quickly on the unprepared and the under educated."
Page graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1967 with a B.A. in political science. At Notre Dame, he was an All-American defensive end and played on the school's 1966 national championship team. Chosen in 1967 by the Vikings as their first-round draft choice, Page went on to earn the Most Valuable Player award in the National Football League in 1971. In the NFL, he played the position of defensive tackle. He logged fifteen seasons with the Vikings and Chicago Bears, starting in each of the 236 games he played during his career before retiring in 1981. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
After graduating from law school in 1978, he joined the law firm of Lindquist and Vennum in Minneapolis, where he specialized in labor and employment litigation from 1979 to 1984, over-lapping with his final years in the NFL. He served as assistant attorney general for the state of Minnesota from 1987 to 1993.
Page established the Page Education Foundation in 1988 to increase the participation of minority youth in post-secondary education and work-readiness activities. Scholarship recipients tutor kindergarten through eighth-grade students for eight to ten hours each month during the school year while attending post-secondary school, thus creating a pyramid influencing younger students of color as mentors and role models.
Page regularly speaks to minority students about the importance of education. He also encourages adults to influence children to look at the values and good examples of hard work that decent Americans provide every day for "creating and sustaining hope for the future." He noted, "These are not the heroes who offer hope with promises of winning the lottery, becoming a rap star, or pulling down backboards and endorsement contracts in the NBA. These are simply men and women who get up every morning and do the things that citizens do."
Page was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1993. In his 1998 re-election campaign, an opponent charged that Page's foundation activities violated canons regarding the judicial appearance of impartiality. The ethics complaint showed that donations to the scholarship fund had soared in recent years and that some of the contributors included companies and law firms with cases pending before the Minnesota Supreme Court. Page said that he refused to help raise funds and that he intentionally avoided any knowledge of his contributors. The complaint also charged that awarding scholarships only to minorities violated the judicial canon prohibiting any expressions of bias or prejudice. In February 1999, the Minnesota Board of Judicial Standards cleared Page of any ethics violations in the matter.
Page was in the news in 2000 when he was ticketed for driving with expired automobile license tabs, which is a sticker affixed to the license plate each year as proof that the owner has paid the annual license fee. He demanded a trial on the $57 fine, although the fine would have been reduced to $28 if he had agreed to pay. In court, Page's attorney offered documentation that his client had mailed a check for the tabs weeks before he received the ticket. The Minneapolis City Attorney's office argued that Page had an obligation to stay off the road until he received his tabs. However, the court ruled in Page's favor, finding that Page should not have been penalized for the state's delay.
Page has received a number of honors, both for his playing days and for his activities after retirement from the NFL. He was a recipient of the Dick Enberg Award and became a member of the Academic All-American Hall of Fame. He was named by the Star Tribune of Minneapolis and St. Paul as one of the 100 most influential Minnesotans in the twentieth century. He also has received honorary doctor of laws degrees from Notre Dame, St. John's University, Westfield State College, and Luther College.
While playing for the Vikings, Page married Diane Sims. They have four children.
Page, Alan. 1993. "A Message You May Not Hear In Law School" (lecture). Ohio Northern University Law Review 20 (fall-winter).
Starr, Cynthia, et al. 1994. "Home Court Advantage." ABA Journal 80 (February).