Leonard Marshall probably doesn’t need to worry much about discipline even as a first-year high school head coach. If his players act up, all he has to do is show them a clip of “The Hit.”
You know, the blind-sided shot the former Giants defensive end put on Joe Montana in the fourth quarter of the 1990 NFC Championship Game that essentially ended Joe Cool’s career with the 49ers and propelled the G-Men to their second Super Bowl victory under Bill Parcells. One of the most legendary hits in NFL history, it left Montana with cracked ribs, a broken hand and feeling like he was on death’s doorstep.
Even though Marshall’s current players weren’t even born then, they’re certainly familiar with the play.
“It comes up a lot,” Marshall said. “YouTube and all that stuff from all my days on the ‘Howard Stern Show,’ they pull up stuff from my games against the Redskins and all that kind of stuff. These kids are no joke, man.”
Now nearly two decades later, Marshall is a rookie head coach at Hudson Catholic High School, a private school of just over 400 students in Jersey City, NJ, just 10 miles away from where he starred with the Giants. Marshall got the job this spring despite having no formal coaching experience.
How? Cold calling.
After learning about the opening from his girlfriend, Marshall left a voice mail for the school’s athletic director saying he was interested in the position. Originally thinking it was a joke, the AD made a huge splash locally by hiring the three-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion. It didn’t hurt that one of Marshall’s references was none other than Giants owner John Mara.
But Hudson Catholic is far from a dream job. The team went 2-7 in 2009 and the school reportedly almost closed a couple years ago due to debt and shrinking enrollment. But Marshall, who is currently 2-5 this season, has never taken a traditional path since leaving the NFL gridiron over 15 years ago.
In fact, he’s become somewhat of a Renaissance Man since then. Marshall’s gotten his MBA in business finance, been involved in several business ventures for everything from an ATM business to an anti-smoking device, started his own football academy, served as a motivational speaker, became an author and even served as a college professor.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Marshall was actually an adjunct professor of sports management at Seton Hall University for several years until being asked to take a pay cut. The New York Daily News even dubbed him “Professor Sack.”
Finally in his first year as a head coach at the age of 49, Marshall is already dreaming big in his new gig.
“My ultimate goal is to walk on the sideline down there in Baton Rouge and one day become the head football coach at LSU,” said the Tiger legend and Franklin, LA, native. “And if it’s not LSU, it’s somewhere else, another big-time college program where I can lead and show kids what was taught to me.”
Marshall said he hasn’t started inquiring about college coaching positions or putting feelers out to LSU about an assistant role but plans on hiring a football agent after the season to work on that full-time.
Sadly, several other Giants from that 1990 team have been in the headlines as well recently – but for all the wrong reasons. In March, former Giants wide receiver Mark Ingram had two years added to his seven-year prison sentence from 2008 for skipping bail to watch his Heisman-winning son play on TV. Two months later, Lawrence Taylor was arrested for third-degree felony rape involving a 16-year-old girl. And on Wednesday, ex-Giants return man Dave Meggett was sentenced to thirty years in prison for raping a 21-year-old student.
Said Marshall: “It hurts and that’s the reason why I wrote the book (When The Lights Go Out) because people have to know – what I say all the time – what they did on the field made them heroes, but what they do now makes them human.”
Having played in the NFL for 12 seasons, Marshall now has no desire to go back as a coach, saying players are too hard to control at that level with the money and egos involved.
“Think about this for one second: They’re paying me $2 million a year to coach this kid and they’re paying him $5-6 million to play,” Marshall said. “It would only take one time that he would disrespect me in a meeting or disrespect my authority as a coach for me to lay that guy out or do something that’s totally out of character.”
Just ask Joe Montana what getting laid out by Marshall feels like.