Eager to begin the next chapter in his life, former Titan Marc Mariani returned to Nashville earlier this year after retiring from the NFL.
He could hardly wait to find an occupational field where his skills fit best.
It didn’t take long, however, for Mariani to find out that his game plan needed some major adjustments.
“I sat down with my wife (Carly) and the people closest to me and thought, ‘OK, what do we want to do?'” Mariani said. “I looked around and nobody was requiring the skills of reading defenses or running away from people anymore. So I thought, ‘Shoot, I’ve got to learn something else or I’m going to get swallowed alive.'”
Getting a defender to buy a fake to escape a tackle may not come in as handy as it once did, but selling a client on a piece of property in Nashville’s sizzling hot real estate market was enticing for Mariani.
That’s why he is tackling a new career. Mariani’s gone from being re-signed by the Titans as free agent in 2016 to becoming an agent for Village Real Estate, which has offices in Nashville and Franklin.
Mariani isn’t entering the local real estate market cold. He’s dabbled in the business since joining the Titans in 2010 as a late-round draft pick.
He purchased his first condominium here, flipped a house, purchased some short-term rental properties and eventually bought a home.
“As I started letting the dust settle and thinking about what life after football looked like, jumping into real estate and learning the trade really fit what I wanted to do,” Mariani said. “I love people, I love interacting with people, I love building relationships, I love networking, I love getting out in the community, and all those things fell into place at the right time.”
Mariani was a Pro Bowl kick returner as a rookie. He had a 98-yard kickoff return for a TD, an 87-yard punt return for a TD and set the franchise record for most total return yards on punts and kickoffs (1,859) in 2010.
The following year he had a 79-yard punt return for a TD and ranked in the top 10 in the AFC in average punt and kickoff return yards.
But Mariani may be most remembered for the gruesome injury he suffered on a punt return against Arizona in the 2012 preseason. He broke his left leg in two places. It was so bad that his teammates warned him not to look down at his leg.
After spending two seasons with the Chicago Bears, Mariani returned to the Titans in 2016.
The Marianis spent 2017 in California where Marc continued to train hoping to be picked up again on the free agent market. That didn’t happen and they moved back to Nashville earlier this year.
Finding an occupation that provided the same highs Mariani experienced during his football career was a challenge. He looked into selling insurance and even considered getting involved in Nashville’s music industry.
“Any industry in this city is going crazy right now,” Mariani said. “Nashville is as hot as it gets in this country and that’s an exciting part, too. To be in the middle of all that and to be around such a vibrant, energetic place was a big part of it. I just knew, the deals that we’ve been doing off the field for the past few years, that real estate was a great fit and something I would be passionate about.”
Carly, who played volleyball at SMU and graduated with a degree in advertising, is joining her husband in the new venture.
“Real estate is in both of our DNA; both of our families have properties, commercial and residential and all sorts of stuff,” Mariani said. “As I started down this path, she kind of caught the bug as well. She got her license, hung her license with Village and we are going to be a team out there jumping in head first.”
Mariani is not the only NFL veteran at Village. Audie Cole, a linebacker for the Vikings (2012-16), joined the agency in March.
Ex-Tech pitchers shine in majors
Former Tennessee Tech pitcher David Hess recently made his major league debut.
He earned a start for the Baltimore Orioles against Tampa Bay on May 12 and claimed a 6-3 victory at Camden Yards.
The Tullahoma native became the first former Tech pitcher to start a game at the major league level.
“I can’t really even put it into words,” said Hess, who played at Tech from 2012-14. “It’s just an experience that you literally dream about since you were a kid.”
Hess’ debut wasn’t the only historic major league moment for a former Tech player this month. On May 4, former Golden Eagle southpaw Adam Liberatore (2006-10) joined former Vandy standout Walker Buehler, who started, and two other Los Angeles Dodger pitchers to record a combined no-hitter over San Diego.
Ben Walker joins TSU staff
New Tennessee State basketball coach Brian Collins added Ben Walker to his staff.
Walker spent the last two seasons as an assistant at South Dakota State where he helped lead the Jackrabbits to back-to-back NCAA tournaments and a 46-24 record.
Walker spent the 2015-16 season on the staff at Jackson State.
Collins hired former Southwest Tennessee and Motlow State Community College head coach Jerry Nichols in April.
Local basketball players earn Hancock/Nipper awards
The Nashville City Civitan Club presented the A.D. Hancock/Walter Nipper Basketball Sportsmanship awards at Swett’s Restaurant.
The awards are presented annually to Davidson County college and high school athletes who exemplify character and sportsmanship.
The recipients: Chazmin Brown and Jaylen Whittaker, Cane Ridge; Kaia Upton, East Nashville; Harold Suggs, Stratford; Burton Sampson and Darby Maggard, Belmont; Malik Yant and Jayla Long, Fisk; Taylor Roberts and Kaliya Griffin, TSU.
Astros call up former Vandy star Tony Kemp
Former Centennial High and Vanderbilt outfielder Tony Kemp was recalled Wednesday by the Houston Astros.
Kemp, 26, came up from Triple-A Fresno where he had a 20-game hitting streak, which ended Tuesday. He was hitting .335 for the season.
The Astros sent outfielder Jake Marsinick down after Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels.
Kemp can play second base or center field, but is expected to be used primarily in left field where he started Wednesday against the Angels and batted ninth.
He was selected by Houston in the fifth round of the 2013 draft.
Vandy hires Wright as associate head coach
Former Purdue basketball standout Shereka Wright, who spent the last five seasons as an assistant at Alabama, has been hired as associate head coach at Vanderbilt.
Wright replaced Joy Cheek, who left Vandy last week to join the staff at Clemson.
Wright helped Alabama post back-to-back 20-win seasons.
After her playing career ended at Purdue, Wright was the 13th player selected in the 2004 WNBA Draft. He pro career ended prematurely due to Achilles tendon injury.
Barca leaves athletics for local communications position
Brandon Barca, who worked in the athletics departments at Tennessee and Vanderbilt and for the Predators, has been hired as a senior account executive for MP&F Strategic Communications.
After receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Tennessee, Barca went to work in the Vols sports information department. He then spent 13 years at Vanderbilt where he was director of online services in the athletics department.
State Open begins Tuesday
The 70th annual Tennessee State Open Golf Tournament will be played Tuesday-Thursday at The Grove in College Grove.
The tournament pulled off a major coup in March when Franklin American Mortgage signed on as the title sponsor.
Franklin American Mortgage served as the title sponsor for an LPGA Tour event played at Vanderbilt Legends Club from 2004-2006.
Jonathan Hodge of Knoxville won the 2017 tournament by three strokes over Steven Fox of Hendersonville, Grant Leaver of Centerville and two others.
Gilbert wins another Senior Open
Gibby Gilbert III claimed the first three-peat victory in the Tennessee Senior State Open tournament on Tuesday at Stonehenge Course in Crossville.
Gilbert, of Ooltewah, posted a 3-under par 69.
Top Midstate finishers: (4th place tie) Kevin Walker, Nashville, Stuart Smith, Nashville; (7th tie) Audie Johnson, Mt. Juliet; (13th tie) Jared Melson, Tullahoma, Steve Munson, Springfield, Eddie Wyatt, Crossville; (21st tie) Bill Breen, Nashville, Craig McElhaney, Nashville; (28th tie) Doug Harris, Franklin, Ken Lee, Manchester, Loren Personett, Mt. Juliet, Buddy Harston, Kingston Springs, Kip Henley, Crossville.
Tony Green of Kingsport won the super senior division (65-older) with a 72-76 148 and Brentwood’s Bob Waldschmidt was second (77-75 152).
Sports on Nashville TV
The top five local ratings for sporting events from May 7-13:
1. Stanley Cup playoffs: Predators-Jets (Game 7), 13.2
2. Stanley Cup playoffs: Predators-Jets (Game 6), 11.6
3. NBA playoffs: Cavaliers-Celtics (Game 1), 6.1
4. PGA: Players Championship (final round), 5.9
5. Stanley Cup playoffs: Jets-Knights (Game 1), 3.8
Each rating point is equal to 10,307 Nashville homes.
Source: Mark Binda, WTVF-5 senior programming director
If you have an item for Midstate Chatter contact Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.