A to Z Sports’ Buck Reising recently delivered a column that explained how little we truly know about the off-the-field persona of Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.
The column received a mixed reaction from fans on social media. Some fans felt the same as Buck. Other fans, however, made it clear that they couldn’t care less what Mariota does or says off-the-field, as long as he leads the Titans to the playoffs in 2019.
I happen to agree with Buck. Shocking, right?
Mariota is one of only 32 starting NFL quarterbacks in the world, yet he’s an enigma. And it’s by design. Mariota grew up in a household that was influenced by Samoan culture (his dad is of Samoan descent), which is notoriously private. In an interview with The Tennessean in 2016, Mariota explained how his approach to media was influenced by Samoan culture growing up, saying his parents taught him “just do your business and everything else will take care of itself”.
While I understand Mariota’s desire for privacy — especially since it’s how he was raised — I think there’s a way he can still be (mostly) private and also give fans (and the media) insight into the “true” personality of Marcus Mariota.
The answer? Appear on a podcast.
Look, I love podcasts. I spend a large amount of most days consuming podcast content. I especially love podcasts with athletes because I don’t get to typically hear them talk about non-football (or whatever sport they play) topics. Podcasts are great because they can just be a conversation about anything.
If Mariota would go on a podcast (obviously I’d suggest The 615 Sessions with Buck Reising, but I’d take any platform he’d be willing to appear on), it would give us a better insight into his sense of humor and what makes him tick. It would also make fans, whether some of them want to admit it or not, feel more connected to Mariota.
At this point, there is no real emotional connection between the fans and Mariota. The former Oregon standout is about to enter a contract year and there’s a real possibility that Mariota isn’t back in Nashville next season. And the only reason anyone seems bothered by that is because everyone knows how hard it is to find a quarterback in the NFL. No one feels like they’re losing part of their family if Mariota were to depart. It’s purely business.
Mariota can change that with one simple 30 to 45 minute conversation with the person of his choice. It’s amazing the difference one deep glimpse into a person’s personality can make. There have been plenty of athletes/celebrities that I’ve done a 180 on because of a podcast interview. In fact, rarely have I’ve listened to a podcast and failed to like the interviewee more than I did before.
There’s no doubt that if Mariota desires privacy then he deserves it. Every human does. But it would be in his best interest to at least have a public conversation so fans can get to know him on a slightly deeper level.
Perception is everything and Mariota has a chance to change the narrative that’s been created for him if he wants. The ball is in his court.
Featured image via Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports/Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports