NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Every weekday at A to Z Sports, Austin Stanley, Zach Bingham and I have our morning meeting immediately after that day’s iteration of the Facebook Live and Periscope show. We map out that day’s content strategy, go over topic ideas/potential 615 Sessions guests and schedule out the rest of that week’s meetings and events.
We were planning for Marcus Mariota, quarterback for your Tennessee Titans, who is scheduled to speak to the media ahead of cornerback Logan Ryan’s “Chow Down” fundraiser to benefit the Ryan Animal Rescue Foundation this coming Friday at The Bell Tower. This is notable because any Mariota availability outside of the regularly scheduled occurrences at Saint Thomas Sports Park are scraps for the media vultures to feast upon in this barren local sports wasteland that is May/June.
An event like the “Chow Down” allows for more opportunities to get players in a more relaxed environment. You can ask questions outside of the tired, post-practice rotation of cliches. Mariota videos do well on social media and the fifth-year quarterback doing something other than talking about an injury or burying us in coach speak, in a moment of transparency, is good for the business of A to Z Sports (and every other media outlet that will be in attendance).
Just think of all the “Likes” and “Impressions” that could be mined from Mariota talking about his love for his dog!
Wait…does he even have a dog?
I cannot imagine this would be a sticking point for anyone else. Perhaps, this blog is just me being righteously self-involved and being born of the TMZ Generation. But, in an dominated by Instagram hearts and SnapChat baby-face filters, I am baffled by how little I know about Marcus Mariota heading into Year 5 as an NFL quarterback.
Tennessee might be the only one of the 32 franchises whose head coach is on Twitter but whose starting quarterback abstains. I know for a fact that Mariota has at least one dog and can assume the breed (Frenchton) based on his girlfriend’s Instagram bio.
I am a 25-year-old sports fan in 2019. I crave as much access and insight into the lives of sports figures and celebrities as I can inject into my social media veins because it creates some faux sense of attachment. Yet, here I sit at my kitchen counter, unable to find a single photograph on Google of an NFL quarterback with his dog.
This is not meant as a hit job. It would be perverse to take out Mariota for denying us access we frankly do not deserve. His teammates and coaches love him and, from a distance, he appears more genuine than anything. I am simply fascinated by the behavior because I cannot rationalize it. How the hell is a mid-20s starting quarterback in a city that traffics entirely on stardom and bachelorette parties so totally anonymous?
We can all understand wanting privacy but this man is the rare Millennial recluse.
I hear Josh Rosen interviewed and it intrigues me because there’s depth. I watch viral videos of Baker Mayfield dancing and I am filled with contempt for Cleveland (!) media who get to cover him. Jimmy Garappolo dates pornstars and I stare on from afar with longing in my eyes. These guys are the exceptions and not the rule, of course, but the argument could be made that no NFL franchise will start a player at the most important position in sports less known than the Titans. They all, for better or worse, show their personalities and let people in.
It engenders more goodwill from the fan base than one might realize.
Long term, none of Mariota’s robotics matter if he wins. I have no other means to lash out about my disinterest in another Mariota press conference but I remain hopeful that it is simply a comfort level issue that will lax over time.
All I want to know is a little more about this alleged dog. Odds aren’t great that I’ll find out on Friday.
Featured Image: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports