Bears wide receiver Marc Mariani thought it was some kind of joke when the Tennessee Titans told him he had been drafted in 2010.
Face it, it’s not often a college walk-on from Big Sky country gets that call.
But the notification came from his Montana teammate, Brandon Fisher, whose dad, Jeff, happened to coach the Titans at the time.
From the Titans’ team site:
Mariani thought he was the victim of a practical joke when the Titans called to inform him that he was drafted. The former Montana teammate of then-Titans Coach Jeff Fisher’s son, Brandon, had been on the phone back and forth with his buddy all day. Just before the Titans were scheduled to pick in the seventh round, Mariani got another call from Brandon, who informed him that he was now a Titan.
Some thought it was a “friends and family” pick by Fisher. Mariani quickly erased any doubt, earning a spot in the Pro Bowl his rookie season as a returner. Mariani returned a league-high 60 kickoffs in 2010 for 1,530 yards.
Fisher knew his choice was justified. From The Missoulian:
I think people maybe just have to fill in lines or what have you and went there for ridiculous reasons. I was not concerned at all, Fisher said. I’m not surprised, we as a staff, are not surprised at what Marc has been able to do. I personally watched Marc do it for three years and felt like his production at that level would transfer to this level.
It’ll be a reunion for Mariani and the Fishers on Sunday when the Bears meet the Rams in St. Louis. Jeff is the head coach of the Rams and Brandon is his defensive backs coach.