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Pro Football Hall of Fame honors Paul Krause

Being raised in the tough, auto manufacturing heartland of Flint, Michigan, Paul Krause grew up knowing he had a God-given talent for sports. He continually tested this gift even at a young age. Always choosing to match up against kids much older than himself, in junior high he was dubbed the "old pro." In high school, he once scored 54 points in a basketball game, and earned all-state honors in basketball, football, baseball and track. One of the few in his high school to ever receive an athletic scholarship, Paul went on to excel in both baseball and football at the University of Iowa. As a sophomore, he earned All-American honors in baseball and was drafted into the major leagues, turning down the offer to focus on football. And focus he did. The 6-3, 200lb. Krause became a two-way star at Iowa as a wide receiver and defensive halfback. As a senior, he was selected for the East-West Shrine game, the Coaches' All-American game and the College All-Star game, and became the No. 2 pick in the 1964 NFL draft. Drafted by the Washington Redskins, the durable Krause went on to play 223 games in sixteen pro seasons, missing only two games due to injuries.

A blue-ribbon leader

A dogged determination marked the career of Paul Krause. In his rookie year, playing as if he were a seasoned pro, Krause led the NFL in interceptions and was named to the All-NFL team. Traded to the Minnesota Vikings in 1969, Paul starred in eight Pro Bowls and was named All-NFL four times, All-Eastern Conference twice and All-NFC five different times. He was the starting free safety in Super Bowls IV, VIII, IX and XI, holds the all-time NFL record for interceptions with 81 and ranks third with 1,185 career yards on interception returns. As he looks back on his remarkable career, Paul Krause remembers going to watch a Detroit Lions game while in college. Says Krause, "It was that afternoon I realized without a doubt I could play pro ball. Besides the physical talents God gave me, I knew He had also blessed me with a kind of even-keel intensity, a maturity. I just seemed to always know what I could do and what I couldn't do." And when asked to name his biggest thrill in the pros, Paul harkens back to the neighborhood kids in Flint, Michigan. "l never lost touch with those guys. Growing up, we were poor and didn't know it. We were all sports junkies with the dreams of being the next star. As a pro, I realized I had made it, playing with the best in the world, and I was an extension of my old friends back in Flint.

Krause took football and life seriously

But it wasn't all about sports growing up. Krause remembers missing practices and games, not because of injuries, but because of something his parents taught him. "I got great direction from my parents. They were very dedicated Christians, and every Wednesday evening the whole family went to church for a prayer meeting. Sports took second place when it came to God. And at home, my parents lived their faith everyday. Putting God first just made so much sense to me. I knew I had been given the answer, and I didn't need to look around for it."

In college and in the NFL, Paul attended Bible studies and made good, Christian friends. But he knew he was somewhat of an outcast. "I got along with everyone fine, but when it came to celebrating the good life, my lifestyle was different. I knew I wasn't ‘one of the guys', but that was okay. My faith in Jesus Christ had always given me a resolve to calmly live out my faith. On the field and off, I was never an emotional person. As I said, I knew the Lord had blessed me with more than talent. He had given me a kind of even-keel intensity. I played that way and have lived my life that way. That doesn't mean my life has been easy. I just was given the gift of knowing what I could do, and what I couldn't do."

Still believing in the answer

This precious maturity Krause has displayed was never more tested than in 1996, when his wife Pam was severely injured in a car accident near their home in Lakeville, Minnesota. "Pam was driving and was hit by a truck smashing into the driver's side door. She was rushed to the hospital by helicopter and spent five and a half months in a coma. The doctors said, "Your wife is going to die. If you believe in God, start praying." Well, of course I prayed, and I just felt she wouldn't die. It's been a long, hard struggle for her and our family. She still has difficult complications with limited movement due to an injury to her brainstem. But, we've become closer during this time. I've been mad, frustrated, hurt, and have cried out, "Why does this happen, Lord?" Someday we'll know why. But for now, I can tell you the support from the community has been incredible. The Minnesota Vikings, both players and personnel, have just been tremendous. And you know, there's still hope. The doctors have told us that the brainstem is the only part of the brain that can heal itself."

1998 Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Paul Krause has been active in community development since his retirement from the NFL in 1979. He currently serves on the Board of Commissioners for Dakota County, Minnesota. He and his wife Pam have three children, Z age 35, Amanda 33, and a son Blair, 29. They have one grandson and are expecting another in September 1998.

Calm, cool and collected, Paul is still living life as usual, with a straight forward determination. Being honored as one of the greats in NFL history, he reminisces about the poor kids he grew up with in the tough section of Flint, Michigan. He realized early on that he was given two gifts. One of exceptional talent. And the other of knowing just what to do with it. And he knows that both those gifts can only come from God.

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