Wilber Marshall

American football player (born 1962)

American football player
Wilber Marshall
No. 58, 55
Personal information
Born: (1962-04-18) April 18, 1962 (age 62)
Titusville, Florida, U.S.
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:231 lb (105 kg)
Career information
High school:Astronaut (Titusville)
NFL draft:1984 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11
Career history
  • Chicago Bears (1984–1987)
  • Washington Redskins (1988–1992)
  • Houston Oilers (1993)
  • Arizona Cardinals (1994)
  • New York Jets (1995)
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:179
Games started:153
Forced fumbles:24
Fumble recoveries:16
Defensive touchdowns:4
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR
College Football Hall of Fame

Wilber Buddyhia Marshall (born April 18, 1962) is an American former professional football player who was a linebacker in the National Football League (NFL) for five teams from 1984 until 1995. Marshall played college football for the Florida Gators, was twice recognized as a consensus All-American, and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

He was selected in the first round of the 1984 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears and played in Super Bowl XX.[1] Marshall later was part of the Super Bowl XXVI-winning Washington Redskins team, and also played for the Houston Oilers and Arizona Cardinals before finishing his career with the New York Jets.

Early years

Marshall was born in Titusville, Florida.[2] He attended Astronaut High School in Titusville,[3] where he was a Parade magazine All-American high school football player for the Astronaut War Eagles.[4] Future fellow NFL star Cris Collinsworth played quarterback on Astronaut's football team during Marshall's freshman year. In 2007, twenty-nine years after he graduated from high school, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) named Marshall to its "All-Century Team", recognizing him as one of the thirty-three greatest Florida high school football players of the last 100 years.[4]

College career

Marshall accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where he was first a tight-end, before becoming a star linebacker for coach Charley Pell's Gators teams from 1980 to 1983.[5] He was the core of a ferocious Gators defense and finished his college career with 343 tackles, fifty-eight tackles for a loss, and twenty-three quarterback sacks.[5] Marshall was a three-time first-team All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selection (1981, 1982, 1983) and a two-time consensus first-team All-American (1982, 1983).[5][6] He was a finalist for the Lombardi Award in both 1982 and 1983, and was named "National Defensive Player of the Year" by ABC Sports in 1983.[5] The Gainesville Sun named him a first-team selection to the Gators "Team of the Century" in 1999, as well as the "Defensive Player of the Century." Marshall was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great,"[7] and was named to the University of Florida's Ring of Honor in 2007, joining Florida football greats Steve Spurrier, Jack Youngblood, Emmitt Smith and Danny Wuerffel.[8] Marshall was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.[3] In one of a series of articles published by The Gainesville Sun in 2006, he was recognized as the No. 4 player among the top 100 all-time Florida Gators.[9]

Professional career

Chicago Bears

Marshall is perhaps best known as a significant member of two Super Bowl championship teams, the 1985 Bears and the 1991 Redskins.[10] In 1985, the Bears, behind one of the most celebrated defenses in league history, finished the regular season 15–1, shut out both opponents in the playoffs, and beat the New England Patriots 46–10 in Super Bowl XX. In a 37–17 week 16 victory over the Detroit Lions, Marshall delivered a stunning hit on Lions' quarterback Joe Ferguson that left Ferguson flat on his back, knocked out cold. But perhaps Marshall's most memorable moment came in the 1985 NFC Championship Game, against the Los Angeles Rams. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, snow began to fall at Soldier Field, eliciting loud applause from the Bears fans in attendance. On the next play, Bears defensive end Richard Dent sacked Rams quarterback Dieter Brock, causing Brock to fumble the football. Marshall picked up the loose football and, alongside William "The Refrigerator" Perry, ran 52 yards through the falling snow. The Bears beat the Rams 24–0, and Marshall's fumble return for a touchdown continues to be the highlight from that game most replayed.[11] Fox News Chicago also named that play to be the most iconic moment of the game, and of the season, as well. He also had a good performance in the Super Bowl, recording a sack and recovering a fumble. In 1986, Marshall recorded five interceptions, 5.5 sacks, and two defensive touchdowns, and was named first-team All-Pro for the first time.

Washington Redskins

In the spring of 1988, Marshall became the first NFL free agent in eleven years to sign with another team, agreeing to a 5-year, $6 million contract offer to play for the Washington Redskins, the team that had eliminated the Bears from the NFL playoffs in each of the previous two seasons.[12] When the Bears declined to match the offer, the Redskins had to give them their two first-round draft picks in the next two NFL Drafts as compensation.

Marshall won another championship ring with the Redskins in the 1991 season, when they beat the Buffalo Bills 37–24 in Super Bowl XXVI, and Marshall finished the game with several tackles and a sack. A week before that, he had a superb performance in the Redskins 41–10 win over the Detroit Lions, sacking Detroit quarterback Erik Kramer three times. During the season, he had 5 interceptions which he returned for 75 return yards. Marshall was named second-team All-Pro following the 1991 season and was named first-team All-Pro for the second time in his career following the 1992 season. In 1993, Marshall reunited with Buddy Ryan, who had been the Bears' defensive coordinator during Marshall's first two seasons, signing a contract to play for the Houston Oilers. When Ryan left the Oilers to become head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 1994, Marshall joined him there for one season. He then finished his NFL career in 1995 as a member of the New York Jets.

In his twelve NFL seasons, Marshall recorded forty-five sacks and intercepted twenty-three passes, which he returned for 304 yards and three touchdowns.[2] He also forced 24 fumbles and recovered sixteen, returning them for seventy yards and two touchdowns.[2] He is among the few players who have recorded twenty sacks and twenty interceptions in their career.

Life after football

Marshall has spent much of his life after football suffering from injuries he sustained during his professional career. His health has declined as the years progressed, but Marshall has refused to receive surgery to repair his injured spine, shoulder, and knees. Marshall has battled the NFL and the players' union in court over a settlement pertaining to his injuries.[13] Marshall prevailed in his long-pending dispute over his entitlement to total disability benefits from the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan in 2008. However, by that time, he had filed for bankruptcy due to legal and medical expenses, and he refused to appear at a 25th anniversary tribute for the 1985 Bears team due to disagreements with the McCaskey family over player treatment.[14][15]

Marshall lived in the Washington DC suburbs after retirement until moving back to his hometown of Titusville, Florida several years later.[3][16]

NFL career statistics

Regular season

Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
GP GS Cmb Solo Ast Sck Int Yds TD FF FR
1984 CHI 15 1 19 0.0 0 0 0 0 0
1985 CHI 16 15 78 6.0 4 23 0 2 1
1986 CHI 16 15 105 5.5 5 68 1 4 3
1987 CHI 12 12 93 5.0 0 0 0 2 1
1988 WAS 16 16 133 4.0 3 61 0 3 0
1989 WAS 16 16 108 4.0 1 18 0 1 2
1990 WAS 16 15 107 5.0 1 6 0 2 1
1991 WAS 16 16 135 5.5 5 75 1 4 1
1992 WAS 16 16 138 6.0 2 20 1 3 3
1993 HOU 10 10 37 2.0 0 0 0 0 1
1994 ARI 15 15 58 42 16 1.0 1 13 0 2 1
1995 NYJ 15 6 32 25 7 1.0 2 20 0 1 2
Career 179 153 1,043 67 23 45.0 24 304 3 24 16

See also

  • iconAmerican football portal
  • Biography portal
  • iconCollege football portal


  1. ^ "1984 NFL Draft Listing". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved October 10, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c Pro-Football-Reference.com, Players, Wilber Marshall. Retrieved Marsh 17, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Wilber Marshall at the College Football Hall of Fame
  4. ^ a b "FHSAA announces 33-member All-Century football team Archived June 28, 2013, at the Wayback Machine", Florida High School Athletic Association (December 12, 2007). Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d 2011 Florida Gators Football Media Guide Archived April 2, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 83, 87, 92, 96, 101–102, 153, 183 (2011). Retrieved August 31, 2011.
  6. ^ 2012 NCAA Football Records Book, Award Winners, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Indianapolis, Indiana, pp. 8, 9, 14 (2012). Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  7. ^ F Club, Hall of Fame, Gator Greats. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  8. ^ "Wilber Marshall Named to UF's Ring of Honor", Gatorzone.com (August 15, 2007). Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  9. ^ Robbie Andreu, "No. 4 Wilber Marshall", The Gainesville Sun (August 30, 2006). Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  10. ^ "Bears Trounce Patriots, 46-10, in Super Bowl". Los Angeles Times. January 27, 1986. Retrieved October 31, 2023.
  11. ^ America's Game: The Super Bowl Champions, "#2. 1985 Chicago Bears." Premiered on CBS, February 3, 2007
  12. ^ Thomas George, "Pro Football; Marshall Sparks a Dormant Fire", The New York Times (May 22, 1988). Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  13. ^ Jones, David (May 2, 2015). "Marshall knows the pain that comes with NFL's fame". Florida Today. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  14. ^ See Marshall v. The Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan, 261 Fed. App. 522 (4th Cir. 2008).
  15. ^ Busch, Mallory; Rumore, Kori (April 26, 2021). "1985 Chicago Bears: Where are they now?". chicagotribune.com. The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  16. ^ Carmi, Greg (May 10, 2020). "Memory Lane Series: Redskins Great Wilber Marshall". Full Press Coverage. Retrieved May 10, 2021.


  • Carlson, Norm, University of Florida Football Vault: The History of the Florida Gators, Whitman Publishing, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia (2007). ISBN 0-7948-2298-3.
  • Golenbock, Peter, Go Gators! An Oral History of Florida's Pursuit of Gridiron Glory, Legends Publishing, LLC, St. Petersburg, Florida (2002). ISBN 0-9650782-1-3.
  • Hairston, Jack, Tales from the Gator Swamp: A Collection of the Greatest Gator Stories Ever Told, Sports Publishing, LLC, Champaign, Illinois (2002). ISBN 1-58261-514-4.
  • McCarthy, Kevin M., Fightin' Gators: A History of University of Florida Football, Arcadia Publishing, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (2000). ISBN 978-0-7385-0559-6.
  • Nash, Noel, ed., The Gainesville Sun Presents The Greatest Moments in Florida Gators Football, Sports Publishing, Inc., Champaign, Illinois (1998). ISBN 1-57167-196-X.
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