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muhammad ali


Muhammad Ali and Marcus Mariota lead the way. No surprises.

Why do readers love Muhammad Ali and Marcus Mariota? Because of their shared fierce competitiveness?

We’ve already seen the best of Ali, and he was everything he promised he’d be, floating like a butterfly, stinging like a bee.

He came up fast, won early, retired in his prime for not submitting to the Vietnam War draft, then came back. All he did was captivate the world with style, stance, and circling the boxing ring in dance.

Now he’s a shell of the man he once was and as popular as ever.

What can Marcus Mariota learn from Muhammad Ali?

1. Win big like Ali, then win big again.

Seek the biggest stages and win. Ali took his show on the road to Africa, Asia, and Maine. And won. Don’t forget the winning. We like winners.

Mariota needs a Super Bowl, maybe two or three like Tom Brady and Troy Aikman. Without the wins he’s over there with Dan Marino and Boomer Esiason. Great players with capped exposure.

Win a bunch of them and he’s over here with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. Pick any former NFL great and you won’t go wrong. None of them carry the glow of Muhammad Ali.

2. Muhammad Ali changed history.

After Ali, boxing was never the same. No one moved like him and delivered wins like him. Today it’s hard to name the heavyweight boxing champion of the world.

Who’s the best since Mike Tyson, which isn’t to say he’s the best since Ali. Ali stood up for his convictions; Tyson got convicted.

If Russians and Eastern Euro lugs who stand and throw punches are your idea of a good fight, this is the era for you.

If your idea of greatness includes a Floyd Mayweather fight, and a few lumbering giants, this is the best era of your life.

Mariota needs to transcend his game and those working the edges to keep profits high. He needs to embrace CTE and the safety of the sport to keep it from turning into boxing.

3. Support all sports all the time.

Remember Muhammad Ali at the Atlanta Olympics lighting the torch? What will Marcus Mariota’s Olympic moment be?

Remember Ali’s kids fighting in the ring? We have little Mariota’s to look forward to.

If all Mariota does is half of what Ali’s done, he’ll be a household name.

If he does it with the class and grace he’s shown since he stepped onto the field in Eugene, Oregon to start his Duck football career, he’ll be even better.

Ali gave sports fans a chance to fight against insurmountable odds with names like Joe Frazier and George Foreman and Parkinson’s. He was a fighter with more fight than any of them.

Mariota has shown his fighting side, his unwillingness to turn away. Instead he’s determined to make others better football players, to make teams rise up, to lift those who believe in him.

So far he’s given no reason to not believe, and that alone is worth believing.

About David Gillaspie
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