Football’s 60-Minute Men have been extinct for some time now. There was a brief reemergence in the 90s when Deion Sanders played both sides of the ball, but those mythic creatures with names like Thorpe and Nagurski
haven’t been seen on a high level since the Eagles’ Chuck Bednarik, who retired in 1962.
Extinct that is, until Stanford LB Clinton Snyder went down with a knee injury in 2009 and coach Jim Harbaugh called upon FB Owen Marecic to fill in for him. Just like that, the 60-Minute Man was reborn.
Marecic won the inaugural Paul Hornung Award last night, given to the most versatile college player in the country. The 6-foot-4, 244-pound senior played in all 13 games last season, averaged 110 plays in each and even scored a TD in last week’s Orange Bowl victory against Virginia Tech.
So did he have any doubts he could handle all work and no rest?
“I actually never doubted the decision because my philosophy is to do whatever the coaches tell me to do so I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll give it a go,’” said Marecic when he was in New York last month as a member of the National Football Foundation’s Scholar-Athlete Class. “I had the confidence that they were going to play the best player and they weren’t going to let my performance slip at either position. So I put my trust in the coaches and thankfully things have worked out.”
Marecic, who finished fifth on the Cardinal with 51 tackles, added that he had a lot of assistance from his fellow linebackers, who helped speed up the learning curve so he could adjust to the flip side of the ball. As for the toll it took on his body, Marecic heaped praise on the Stanford strength and conditioning team – a team he’ll be sticking with until the NFL Scouting Combine so he can finish his degree in human biology. That field of study must have come in handy when he was trying to figure out all the body aches after his no rest for the weary year.
“Actually, I’ve been concentrating in infectious diseases which doesn’t really translate,” said Marecic, who has a 3.5 GPA. “There wasn’t a class on the effects of football on your body in the bulletin, but there should have been. I could’ve used it.”
While there’s speculation that his old coach, Harbaugh, might grab him for the 49ers in the draft, Marecic said at the time that he would be happy wherever he could contribute, but as a fan he’s been waving a Terrible Towel since childhood.
“My dad’s family is from Pittsburgh so I’m definitely hard-core Steelers,” said Marecic. “Troy Polamalu is my favorite player. It’s amazing how he just pours himself into the game and I love the way he handles himself both on and off the field.”
So was Polamalu the inspiration for his own long hair?
“Nah, I grew mine to donate it to Locks of Love,” said Marecic. “But I heard Troy’s hair is actually insured. That’s impressive.”