We should appreciate Marcus Mariota’s toughness now more than ever

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 11: Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans shakes hands with fans after beating the New England Patriots at Nissan Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 11: Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans shakes hands with fans after beating the New England Patriots at Nissan Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Whether you’re a believer in Marcus Mariota or not, Tennessee Titans fans should have a new appreciation for the quarterback.

If Andrew Luck’s retirement shows us anything, it’s that NFL fans should have a new appreciation for players who deal with injuries, much like Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has.

Luck announced his retirement on Saturday night, which was a result of being mentally worn down due to dealing with injuries, and having to play through those injuries.

Luck has done so in the past, and was looking at another season of the same in 2019. He clearly wasn’t about to go through that again, thus he ended his career prematurely in order to avoid it.

It’s not like this was Luck’s first consideration for retirement, either. He told The Athletic’s Zak Keefer last August that he was mulling retirement during his recovery from a torn labrum.

The strain of what NFL players go through when dealing with injuries can become too much, and Luck’s case certainly proves that. However, you can’t begrudge a guy for making a decision like Luck did. After all, it’s his body and he is the one who has to live with the consequences.

For Mariota, and even Luck to a certain extent, it takes a special toughness to be able to overcome numerous injuries in one’s career. And it’s not like Mariota hasn’t had his opportunities to pack it in, because he’s had plenty.

For instance, according to Paul Kuharsky, in 2018 Mariota dealt with a laundry list of issues.

Tennessee Titans quarterback, Marcus Mariota.
NASHVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 22: Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans talks to head coach Mike Vrabel after being tackled during the second quarter against the Washington Redskins at Nissan Stadium on December 22, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Those issues included a strained oblique, a broken rib, a sprained AC joint, a significant tear of the plantar fascia, an ulnar nerve issue, and a stinger that he suffered in Week 11 that he would end up re-aggravating in Week 16, ultimately leading to his missing a do-or-die game in Week 17.

As ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported at the time, one of Mariota’s injuries, the stinger that caused a nerve condition, could have resulted in permanent damage to the Titans QB.

"But one source said that it is the physical contact of a football game that would subject Mariota to the risk of permanent damage, according to the opinion of the independent spine specialist that has been shared with team officials and the medical staff."

Mariota attempted to play through almost all of that, with the stinger risking permanent damage being his final undoing. It’s amazing he was even able to stand up straight last season, let alone play in football games.

Mariota could have decided it simply wasn’t worth it and taken the same path as Luck — but that course of action wasn’t in the cards for the Oregon product, and instead he’s back for another season in 2019.

On top of all the other injuries Mariota has dealt with throughout his career, the Titans quarterback also suffered a fractured fibula in 2016 that he had to come back from.

Marcus Mariota's toughness is something special.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – AUGUST 24: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts walks off the field following reports of his retirement from the NFL after the preseason game against the Chicago Bears at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

He could have given up on any of those occasions as he tried to recover from, or play through, such injuries. Most of us would have understood that decision had he made it, much like we understand Luck’s.

But, as the culmination of Luck’s career shows us, not every football player has the strength to keep going. It’s something we should all appreciate as special, and not just something we should expect.

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No matter what happens after this season, Marcus Mariota deserves respect for his toughness in pushing on in the face of what has been incredible adversity during his young career.