Former Vikings defensive lineman Jim Marshall had a felony drug conviction scrubbed from his record yesterday by the Minnesota Board of Pardons with the aid of his former coach.

Marshall, an ironman of pro football for nearly 2 decades, won a pardon for his 1991 conviction on a cocaine possession charge, a clean bill of health he sought so he can travel the world without restrictions to do work for a nonprofit he co-founded.

Marshall, 70, came to a hearing at the state courts building with his former coach, Hall of Famer Bud Grant, and lawyer Ron Meshbesher. Marshall's application for the pardon included letters of support from policemen and former Minnesota Chief Justice A.M. "Sandy" Keith.

"It's very important for me to regain my reputation," Marshall told the board, which consists of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, current Chief Justice Russell Anderson and Attorney General Lori Swanson.

Pawlenty said the pardon had nothing to do with Marshall's status as a former Viking.

"We grant pardons like this routinely for many people at every one of our meetings," Pawlenty said. "I'm kind of beyond the point where I get impressed by old football players. I'm not 10."

Eight other people received pardons for offenses ranging from burglary to forgery. Three pardon requests were turned down.

Marshall's 4-year prison sentence for the crime was stayed and he completed probation in 1996, according to a board file.

Marshall was part of a renowned defensive front that included Carl Eller, Alan Page and Gary Larsen in the 1970s. Marshall played more consecutive games and recovered more opponents' fumbles than any other player in NFL history.


* Denver coach Mike Shanahan has signed a 3-year contract extension, keeping him in Denver through the 2011 season.

* Denver coach Mike Shanahan has signed a 3-year contract extension, keeping him in Denver through the 2011 season.

Shanahan, 54, led Denver to Super Bowl wins in 1997 and '98. Since becoming head coach in '95, he has led the Broncos to seven playoff appearances and a 123-69 regular-season record, best in the NFL in that span.

* Joey Harrington signed a 2-year deal with Atlanta, becoming a leading contender to back up starting quarterback Michael Vick. Harrington, the third overall pick by Detroit in the 2002 draft, started 11 games with Miami last season.

The Falcons also released cornerback Kevin Mathis, a 10-year veteran. Mathis made 54 career starts but was limited to eight games in '06 after suffering a neck injury in Week 9. *