Carl Eller
No. 81     
Defensive End
Personal information
Date of birth: (1942-01-25) January 25, 1942 (age 77)
Place of birth: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Career information
College: Minnesota
NFL Draft: 1964 / Round: 1 / Pick: 6
Debuted in 1964 for the Minnesota Vikings
Last played in 1979 for the Seattle Seahawks
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Sacks     133½
Games     225
Safeties     1
Stats at
Pro Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame

Carl Eller (born January 25, 1942) is a former professional American football player in the National Football League who played from 1964 through 1979. He was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and attended the University of Minnesota. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

College careerEdit

At the University of Minnesota Eller joined Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, via the Mu Chapter while at the University of Minnesota.[1]

As a sophomore, Eller helped lead the Gophers to a Rose Bowl victory. While Eller shared the starting position as a sophomore he became a full-time, two-way player as a junior and senior and was voted All-America both years. During his time in college the Gophers were National Champions as well as Big Ten champions. As a senior (1963) Eller was the runner-up for the Outland Trophy. Following each football season, the Carl Eller Award is given to the University of Minnesota's Defensive Player of the Year. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.[2]

NFL careerEdit

In 1964 Eller was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings and also drafted in the first round of the American Football League Draft by the Buffalo Bills, who could not sign him. As the left defensive end in the Vikings front four, he was a major factor in the unit known as the "Purple People Eaters".

Starting in 1968, Eller's fifth campaign, Minnesota won 10 Central Division titles in the next 11 seasons. The Vikings won the 1969 NFL championship and NFC crowns in 1973, 1974, and 1976 and Eller was one of 10 Vikings to play in all four of their Super Bowls, all losses.

He was selected to play in six Pro Bowls (1968–1971, 1973, and 1974). After being traded with an eighth round pick to Seattle Seahawks for defensive tackle Steve Niehaus, Eller played his final season in 1979 with the Seattle Seahawks, where he ran his career total to 225 games. In his career, "Moose" only missed three games and started 209 out of the 225 he played.

Eller is credited as the Vikings all-time sack leader with 130½.[3] He also had 3 sacks with Seahawks in 1979 for a career total of 133½. He set career-high 15 sacks in 1969 and then matched that total in 1977, also to his credit 7 seasons with 10 or more sacks.[4]

Eller was First-team All-NFL from 1968–71, and again in 1973. He was also Second-team All-Pro in 1967 and 1972 and was All-NFC by AP and The Sporting News in 1975. Matched with his Pro Bowls, Eller had a nine-year consecutive streak with some sort of post-season honor which began in 1967 with his Second-team All-pro selection and ended in 1975 with his All-NFC honors.

He was voted the George S. Halas Trophy in 1971 as the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year as awarded by the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA).[5]

Honors in retirementEdit

In 2004, Eller was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[6]

In 2000, Eller was named to the Vikings' 40th Anniversary Team and in 2010 he was named to the Vikings 50th Anniversary team.

Life after footballEdit

In 1980, Eller worked for NFC television as an NFL color analyst, teaming mainly with Merle Harmon.

As a licensed drug and alcohol counselor, Eller founded a group of substance-abuse clinics in the Twin Cities called Triumph Life Centers in 1986. He obtained a college degree in Human Services from Metropolitan State University in 1994 and went on to work for the Minnesota Department of Human Services, addressing issues of health disparities between white people and people of color.[7]

From 1997 to 2001 Eller collaborated with Craig M. Rosenblum on Carl Eller's Viking News, on the frontier of online sports journalism by and for fans in Minnesota.

Eller has previously acknowledged personal problems with substance abuse, and he has spoken openly and publicly to groups about the problems of chemical dependency.

Eller continues to be very active in retirement, pursuing a wide range of activities and interests.

  • He is the President and Founder of the NFL Retired Players Association (NFL RPA) NFL Retired Players Association a non-profit organization dedicated to providing powerful national advocacy and collegial support for retired professional football players, their families and the community at large.[8] Eller was actively involved in the most recent collective bargaining agreement negotiations, successfully representing the retired players.
  • He works on numerous charitable fundraising events with the NFL RPA, Minnesota Vikings and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  • Eller has developed a college-level course for NFL Player Engagement called called "Game Plan II," which assists professional athletes making the transition to a life after football.[9]
  • Additionally, Eller invented and patented a new casino-style card game, called Moose 81 which is being marketed to the public. Moose 81.
  • He also pursues his creative side at his ceramics studio, Carl Eller Studios Carl Eller Studios and has been a featured artist at several local art fairs.

Eller remains an active and vibrant member of his North Minneapolis community.

Films and televisionEdit

  • Busting (1974) as a huge black man
  • The Black Six (1974) as Jr. Bro Williams
  • The Fall Guy pilot (1981) as Tony
  • Taggert


External linksEdit


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