When Fred Marion reflects on some of the games that stand out most from his time with the Patriots (1982-1991), he finds himself back in the locker room at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium. It was the fifth game of the 1985 campaign.
"That was the turnaround of our season," Marion recalled Tuesday. "After losing a hard-fought game, the ruckus in the locker room, we knew we were better."
The Patriots ripped off six straight victories after that game, one of which came in Seattle when Marion had an 83-yard interception return of quarterback Dave Krieg to key a 20-13 victory (link here). The streak sparked the Patriots to a wild-card playoff berth and eventual trip to the Super Bowl against the Bears that galvanized the region.
Such memories bubbled to the surface Tuesday as Marion answered questions from reporters on a conference call regarding his status as a finalist for the team’s Hall of Fame. Troy Brown and Bill Parcells are the other finalists, with voting ongoing on Patriots.com.
Marion, who works as a general sales manager at a Florida car dealership, said he was floored by the honor. He thanked Robert Kraft for the kindness he’s shown to former players, adding that he wished he could have played for the team under Kraft’s ownership.
Marion relayed that he still watches the Patriots each week, even wearing the team’s jersey to work on Saturdays when the dealership has “Jersey Day.”
“I still wear my colors proudly,” he said.
Marion, who resides in Orlando, most recently attended a game in Foxborough in 2009. That was when Kraft invited members of the Patriots' All-Century team back for the season opener against Buffalo, as part of the American Football League’s 50-year anniversary.
Marion said he still keeps in touch with former teammates Andre Tippett, Johnny Rembert, Ronnie Lippett and Bruce Armstrong, among others. He added that while the game passes players by, the camaraderie and friendships are the things to truly treasure.
If there is one thing Marion misses about New England, it’s the changing of the seasons. Then again, he joked that he wasn’t a fan of cold-weather games.
As for how he’d like to be remembered as a player, Marion said: “I’d like them to remember that I was prepared and left [everything] on the field. I think I was always around the ball and was a student of the game. I wasn’t afraid to make contact and think I played a great centerfield as a free safety. I played the game the way the game was played back then – hard, physical, each and every down.”