I’d like to thank Marshal Yanda for being a great role model to my three sons, Nathan, Sean and Skylar, and all the kids across the country. I’ve followed his entire football career from seventh grade, to high school, to Northern Iowa Area Community College, to the University of Iowa and the NFL.
This letter isn’t about the awards Marshal has earned, or will earn, or the championships he has won. This letter is about the man he has become since I first met him as a 12-year-old boy in 1997. Marshal was on our seventh-grade football team and I had the privilege of being his first offensive line coach.
Recently, I have read many articles about Marshal’s career and watched some specials on TV. The admiration that his teammates, coaches, NFL players, media and fans have shown him is at the highest level.
I remember talking about Marshal to Hawkeye fans at Kinnick Stadium and Baltimore Ravens fans at Soldier Field in Chicago when I saw him play in person against the Bears. I also have talked to Iowa Hawkeyes Football Coach Kirk Ferentz and a director at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton about Marshal. The respect again was at the highest level.
I believe Iowa Hawkeyes Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Doyle stated it best, there’s not a more respected player in the NFL than Marshal.
Marshal’s retirement speech was first class. He reflected on playing for the love of the game. Ravens Coach John Harbaugh stated this is the fullest he ever saw the conference room. Past and present players were there to honor Marshal. I believe playing for only one NFL team shows the respect that both Marshal and the Ravens had for one another. Very few players that played in the NFL for 13 years played for only one team. That is loyalty.
Marshal, thanks for proving me right when I made this very bold statement to you as a 15-year-old kid, “Marshal, I can see you playing for the Hawks someday, maybe the NFL.”