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TSU's Marsalis Selected for Tennessee Sports HOF
Sunday, December 11, 2011
TSU's Marsalis Selected for Tennessee Sports HOF
Nashville, Tenn. - Tennessee State University's James 'Jim' Marsalis will be inducted into the 2012 Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame as announced on Sunday morning. Marsalis can be described as one of the most prolific defensive players in Tennessee State University football history.

Marsalis was a defensive back that hailed from Pascagoula, Miss. He was so dangerous that only once did a quarterback throw a touchdown pass against him in his four years at Tennessee State.

In 1968, Marsalis earned All-American honors from The Sporting News and Times Magazine. He also participated in the 1968 Blue-Gray All-Star Classic, intercepting a record three passes in the game.  

The Kansas City Chiefs selected Marsalis as the top draft choice in 1969. He is widely known as a defensive innovator that would consistently push, grab and pop the receiver to disrupt his motion, creating the "bump and run" - which would become a standard defensive tactic among corners and safeties everywhere for years. The bump - and - run would become so successful that it would eventually be outlawed.

During his rookie campaign, Marsalis helped the Chiefs to the Super Bowl, intercepting two passes against the N.Y. Jets in the divisional playoff game and one against the Raiders in the AFL Championship. Kansas City would later rout the Minnesota Vikings, 23-7, to capture the Super Bowl IV Championship.

"How exciting for Tennessee State University and our Athletic Department to once again be honored by one of our greats being inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame," said TSU Athletic Director Teresa Phillips. "Jim Marsalis was certainly a defensive innovator in the National Football League and as many of our athletic greats he was simply ahead of his time. I am very proud for his family and the TSU family."

His sensational rookie season concluded with selection to the AFL All-Star team and being named the AFL Defensive Rookie of the Year by Pro Football Weekly and the NFL Players Association. Marsalis would go on to play six more seasons for the Chiefs, recording 14 interceptions during his tenure. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 1970 and 1971. He also played two seasons for the New Orleans Saints in 1977 and 1978.

Marsalis earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education from Tennessee State University in 1969. After his NFL career, Marsalis was the secondary coach at Middle Georgia College.  

"I am grateful to Tennessee State University, the state and the committee who thought I was worthy enough to be selected for the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame," said Marsalis. "TSU became my second home and I thank those who helped me grow and mature, especially Coach John A. Merritt and Coach Joe Gilliam, Sr. I am so thankful for the many friendships I have gained because of TSU."

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 19, 2012 at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville.