Sports talk radio won’t bring the best out in everyone.
Either on the phone or in studio, the margin of error is thin.
Say too much and you’re a grandstanding attention hog giving opponents material for their bulletin board.
No one wants a fired up defensive tackle whispering sweet nothings in their ear at the bottom of a pile.
“We heard you were gonna shred us this Saturday, Superstar. How’s it feeling so far?”
Say too little and the world of college football marks you as an idiot and your NFL draft stock drops with no bottom.
You can’t represent yourself and your team like major league juicers testifying before Congress.
Saying “I’m not here to talk about the past” isn’t worse than pretending you forgot how to speak English. Each is a case of too little too late.
What can you expect in a telephone interview?
Play it like Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Not too much or too little, aim for just right. Marcus Mariota struck the right chord Thursday with Dan Patrick and the Danettes.
Dan: As a football fan, who are you rooting for in the Alabama vs A&M game.
The wrong answer: The Ducks would have given Alabama a better game in the national championship. We would have crushed Notre Dame. After Auburn cheated their way to a title over Oregon, the whole state of Alabama feels twisted.
The Mariota Way: First of all, thank you for having me.
Dan: Your welcome.
Mariota: My main concern isn’t about that game. We play at the same time. Their game won’t affect who we’ve got next. Right now my focus is on Tennessee.
This is the legacy of Chip Kelly’s “WIN THE DAY.” Coach Helfrich is locked in, Mariota’s locked in. How many times have athletes answered questions with their opinions on other teams and come off sounding like a Las Vegas bookmaker?
Not this time.
Dan: Were you ever on a recruiting trip with Johnny Manziel? Did you ever cross paths?
The wrong answer: Oh hell yeah. You think the dude is player on the field, you should have seen him with the hostesses. He set the bar high for everyone. You don’t have to go to Oklahoma State for the perks, if you know what I mean.
The Mariota Way: We met at the summer camp before our senior years. Once upon a time he had committed to Oregon and we would have been teammates if he had stayed with his commitment.
Why throw dirt on a college player you’ll run into further down the line? Marcus Mariota isn’t that guy and shows it.
Dan: You grew up in Hawaii. Why Oregon?
The wrong answer: It’s just a stepping stone to the big time, Dan. I’m on the Oregon Trail in reverse. When the time is right, I’ll dump this sleepy burg for your job. Thinking of getting some star tats on my neck along the way.
The Mariota Way: I come from a small island and this community of Eugene is small and reminds me of home. I have a great relationship with the coaches. With the university and academics, all around it felt like the best fit for me. I just felt comfortable.
The Oregon Duck’s quarterback sounds like he’s got both wings working the same direction, as if he’s got some Boy Scout DNA working: Trustworthy, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, etc.
Marcus Mariota understands the moment on the field and on the radio. It came out strong when DP asked about paying college athletes.
The wrong answer: You’re asking about money? Brother, I don’t need no extra college money. Between the boosters, the athletic department, and my daddy I’ve got three bank accounts to handle the cash flow.
The Mariota Way: We’re very blessed and thankful to be on scholarship with the opportunity for further education. As a nineteen year old student-athlete you wouldn’t mind having a little more money in your pocket.
Dan: How much? Would a hundred dollars a month make a difference in your life?
Mariota: For me, personally, it would mean I could go home a little more often.
He didn’t say he could party harder, buy a better cruiser, or make it rain. He said more money means going home more often.
In a world wanting better role models for kids, listening to Marcus Mariota getting the treatment from Dan Patrick is a signal.
If you watch Patrick’s baby boomer face while he listens to Mariota’s answers you’ll see a smile. He’s not cracking under pressure and Dan’s face and nod of approval says more than any words.
Here’s a vote for more like Mariota and fewer Johnny Football. If family, football, and the Oregon Ducks float your boat, Marcus is the captain of that ship.