Remembering Tim Marcum
The thing that gives me a bit of solace as I mourn Tim Marcum is that I hold his passing with high importance.
Thursday was a day the world also lost Nelson Mandela. There was that guy from the “Fast and Furious” movies over the weekend. And I don’t know why, but I actually had a WTF moment when I read Family Guy killed off Brian Griffin. I apologize for that.
Seeing the news of Marcum’s death on my phone hit me hard, and that’s somewhat of a good thing. When that happens, it means that person had an impact on a time of your life.
Myself and the fine folk here at arenafan.com – the sports journalism equivalent of the Big Bang Theory cast – were there day back in the day, and even in arena football when the championship games had single-digit Roman numerals, it can be considered “the day.”
Tim Marcum. Jay Gruden. Stevie Thomas. George LaFrance, Lawrence Samuels . Perry Moss. Barry Wagner. Here in our wonderful yet grossly mismanaged niche sport of ours, those names come off our keyboards and tongues as if we were saying Landry, Shula, Lombardi, Starr, Unitas or Staubach. Twenty years may not seem like that long of time, but it was a different era, and it was a damn good one for this sport.
I’ve always contended that the greatest thing about arena football is that it provides the opportunity for the participants to exceed their potential. If the coaching is solid, the effort inspired and the execution is crisp, then it doesn’t matter a damn bit that these guys aren’t playing on Sundays in the fall. The on-the-field product can be exceptional those nights. Those Tampa Bay Storm games were even better. It’s sad that those outside the sport can’t fully appreciate it.
I’m thankful I can. Even the bad nights.
Sometimes arenaball is that 46-28 clusterfrak where you do just enough to beat a bad team and keep the injury report light because you got either Hunkie Cooper or Andy Kelly in town the next week. One night in the ‘90s, the Storm had just dispatched the Florida Bobcats in that pathetic roach-infested West Palm Beach Auditorium with its 33-inch yards and for some reason, I’ve made the trip to pull a Tampa Tribune check. How was I going to write this crap up?
Just before halftime, Thomas (or was it LaFrance?) bobbled a kickoff, scooped it up, found a seam and scored a touchdown. There were a couple of other highlights, but Marcum delivered the quote of the decade about that touchdown that saved my story from mediocrity.
“Only in arena football can you go from `Oh (Expletive)‘ to `Attaboy’ that quickly,” Marcum said. To this day, I thank him for getting me out of that arena 20 minutes faster.
Players become coaches. Coaches become executives. Ninety eight percent of us rejoin society and get those - ugh - real jobs. And as time passes, we’re reminded of our mortality when we start attending funerals. That circle of life thing.
It’s my fervent hope that the next few years don’t devolve into a Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley smokeblow and that the great playing days of the 1990s are promoted as much as a selling point as the affordable family fun/rock concert aspect. And maybe one day, perhaps I’ll hold Kevin Guy, Nick Davila and Aaron Garcia (scratch that, Aaron made legend status with his 43,212nd touchdown this season) in the same regard as Tim Marcum and company. Time passes. Achievements are appreciated more.
Today is not that day. Instead, I appreciate the little exchange Marcum and I had at practically every game I saw him.
“What’s up young fella,” he’d greet me with that Texas-size grin.
“The Vince Lombardi of Arena Football,” I’d reply.
“Vince is dead. I ain’t yet,” he’d retort, and go about his business.
He is now. And so is an era.