Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, January 24, 2020

Mariota: ‘It’s been a pleasure to be with these guys’

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota looks on from the sidelines during the second half of the Titans’ game at Denver earlier this year, the game in which Mariota was benched for Ryan Tannehill. - Photo by David Zalubowski | AP Photo

Marcus Mariota walked quietly into the sunset off the same field where his most memorable and lasting moment as a Tennessee Titan took place. At Arrowhead Stadium, where just two years ago Mariota completed a batted pass to himself for a touchdown in a Titans playoff upset, the former No. 2 overall pick ended his five-year run with the Titans on Sunday, not with a bang but with a whimper.

But in typical Mariota fashion, it was classy and low key as he peeled off his No. 8 Titans jersey for the final time.

Mariota, who was benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill after a 2-4 start this season, will go out into unrestricted free agency looking to turn the page and start fresh somewhere else, hoping to find the right system and the right fit that never really materialized in Tennessee.

“I have no doubts at all (that I can start in this league). I’m just hopeful and ready for whatever that next opportunity is,” Mariota said in the locker room after the Titans AFC Championship loss to the Chiefs.

One thing is certain: Mariota, one of the last remaining vestiges of the Ruston Webster era as the Titans general manager, leaves the team much better than when he found it.

And even though he finished his time as a Titan as a backup, the former Heisman Trophy winner still bought into the team in whatever ways he could on his way out the door.

“I commend Marcus Mariota. He handled that (situation) better than anybody I know in life,” Titans cornerback Logan Ryan says. “To handle a demotion, he’s a great team player, to go be on the scout team, to go be Lamar Jackson, to go be Patrick Mahomes, to go be Tom Brady – to get us prepared to go there and upset a lot of people.”

Mariota adds he considers his five years in Nashville a “blessing,” despite the way things ended for him personally.

“It’s been a pleasure to be with these guys. It’s always tough to see it come to an end, but it’s a great group of guys, and it’s been a blessing,” he says.

And though his time as a Titan is done, Mariota adds he cherishes the friendships and relationships cultivated during his time here.

“This game will be done for all of us at some point, but the relationships will last. I’m truly grateful for this time here,” he says.

Mariota also explains the demotion in midseason taught him valuable lessons about his faith.

“I learned about having faith in things you can’t really see. No matter what happens, I know I’ve given it everything I’ve got, and we’ll see what happens afterward.’’