Former NFL Player Marques Sullivan Shares his Thoughts on the NFL Draft
Deborah Bayliss | 5/6/2015, 4:35 p.m.
As the excitement of the National Football League (NFL) 2015 Draft reached a “fever pitch” in Chicago last Thursday--the first time in 51 years since the draft was held in the windy city, the Chicago Citizen Newspaper spoke with former NFL offensive lineman, Marques Sullivan about his thoughts and advice for young players starting new NFL careers.
Selected as a fifth-round draft choice by the Buffalo Bills in 2001, Sullivan is hailed as one of the premier offensive linemen during his four-year career with the team. Sullivan also played the 2004-2005 seasons with the New York Giants and New England Patriots. In 2007, Marques played for the Chicago Rush Arena Football Team.
Sullivan, who is now 37, attended Fenwick High School in River Forest, Ill., where he was recognized as one of the three top offensive linemen in the United States. Currently, he is President of the Retired Professional Football Players of Chicago and head coach of the Midwest Preparatory Academy Football Team.
Chicago Citizen Newspaper: Why is the NFL draft such a big deal?
Sullivan: “I think it’s such a big deal this year due to the change of venue after being in New York for all these years. There will be more people watching the draft than watching the Bulls on Thursday night. Chicago is a great town to hold the draft. I also think we’re more appreciative and hopefully Chicago will become the draft headquarters.”
Chicago Citizen Newspaper: What impact did the draft have on you and your family?
Sullivan: “It was me fulfilling a dream and going on to do something a lot of people do not get to do.”
Chicago Citizen Newspaper: A Johns Hopkins study is reported to show evidence of accumulated brain damage in former NFL players that could be linked to specific memory loss that occurs decades after the men stopped playing the game. As a coach and a former player, what are your thoughts on the issue of concussions players sustain in the league?
Sullivan: “I think it starts with the coach in training players with proper technique. Also, using outdated helmets increases the chances of getting concussions. Purchasing a new helmet every year helps. Facemask hits, also increases the likelihood of concussions.”
Chicago Citizen Newspaper: What financial advice would you give to young players for when they get their first, really big paycheck?
Sullivan: “I would say, set yourself up for success. You certainly have to have a respect for money and create a financial plan.”
Chicago Citizen Newspaper: Is the NFL a way out of poverty?
Sullivan: “The odds are greater for being a physician than an NFL football player or even a National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player. It’s unfortunate that young guys see it that way. They should focus instead on getting the grades that will get them scholarships so if they want to participate in sports, they can do so without the burden of having to pay for school.”