Montana shows support for native son Mariani
By John Glennon • THE TENNESSEAN • October 17, 2010
... population of about 10,000 prides itself on its railroad heritage, its agricultural production and its high school's unique nickname — the Blue Ponies.
It is not what one would call a football factory, but don't tell that to former Blue Pony Marc Mariani, whose NFL success has put quite a charge into Havre (pronounced HAV-er).
Mariani has been a household name around town for a few years — the former walk-on at the University of Montana eventually became a team captain and an All-American — but the next chapter is looking even more exciting. Mariani, a seventh-round draft pick last April, not only made the roster, but also has already made an impact. He returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown against Denver, took one 73 yards against Dallas and has the sixth-best kick-return average of players with at least 10 returns.
Is it any surprise that his hometown, as well as much of the state of Montana, is sticking its chest out with pride? Mariani, after all, is one of just seven Treasure State natives who began the season on an NFL roster. "There is just ka-doodles of support for him around here,'' said Tammy Schmidt, owner of The Golden Spike, a popular Havre watering hole. "We have a star player and he's doing just fantastic. I'm hoping the Titans go all the way this season. If they do, this town will just be upside down.''
... in Missoula, University of Montana students are very familiar with Mariani, who ended his career as the most prolific receiver and all-purpose player in school history. "Marc's the kind of kid that brings his lunch pail, works hard and works long hours,'' Coach Robin Pflugrad said. "That's what the community and the campus saw in Marc, and that's why they're so proud of him. "Now when he makes SportsCenter because he has those great returns, everyone is saying, 'Hey, he's doing even better than I expected!' That's kind of been the whole mood around the town.''
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