HAVRE – Havre High School and Montana Grizzly alumnus Marc Mariani has decided to retire from the NFL after an eight-year career.
In 2010, Mariani was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. In 2011, he was selected to the Pro Bowl as a rookie return specialist where he set Pro Bowl records for number of returns (nine) and total return yards for a game (326).
Mariani missed the entire 2012 season after he broke his leg on a punt return in the preseason. He then spent 2014-15 with the Chicago Bears before re-signing with the Titans in 2016.
While attending Havre High, Mariani starred on the football, basketball, and tennis teams. He was named all-state in football and during his senior season had 48 receptions for 1,237 yards and 16 touchdowns. That 2004 Blue Ponies team went 12-0 and won the State A Championship.
Mariani walked on with the Grizzlies in 2005. During his redshirt sophomore season, he led the Big Sky Conference in punt returns. As a redshirt junior in 2008, he started all 16 games and caught 69 passes for 1,308 yards and a career-best 15 touchdowns. He had 2,265 all-purpose yards that season, which is fifth-most in the history of the Big Sky Conference. He averaged 16.22 yards per punt attempt, which ranked him fourth in the nation.
During his final year as a Griz in 2009, Mariani racked up 80 catches for 1,479 yards and 13 touchdowns. His 1,479 yards set a single-season record for Montana. He had seven 100-yard receiving games and four multiple-touchdown games that year, which made him a unanimous all-Big Sky pick at wide receiver, a second-team selection as a return specialist and a first-team all-American by the Associated Press. When his college career was done, Mariani had set multiple school records, including career receiving yards (3,018), receiving touchdowns (29) and career all-purpose yards (5,441).
Mariani often came back to visit Montana and help out in the local community with NFL Play 60 and other such events. The following is a letter from Mariani to the community of Havre.
To the city of Havre and all of north-central Montana,
It has come time to officially announce my retirement from the NFL. It was an incredible journey that started in the streets, parks and fields of our community. My foundation was laid early at Elks and Pepin Parks, and later moved to the gym and playgrounds at St. Jude’s Havre Central. The basketball and tennis courts of Havre High were next, and eventually onto the grass and between the lines at Blue Pony Stadium. These will forever be my fondest memories.
During the course of my career, there were many ups and downs. There were some incredible years, and some very tough years. But through it all, my hometown community was with me every step of the way. I always knew you had my back and believed in me, no matter where I was on my path. It is impossible to explain how much your love and support has meant to me throughout the years. All I can say is thank you … from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for getting me through the tough times and helping me to celebrate the great times. The memories will last forever!
I want to give a special thanks to my parents, Steve and Julie. You have always encouraged me and inspired me to be my best. You supported my crazy dreams and you taught me to never give up. You are my role models and I wouldn’t be here without you. Also a huge thank-you to my amazing sisters, Steph and Katie, who have had to put up with me for so many years, I love you.
It was an incredible ride!