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Tucker out of football … for now

September 10, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer
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EUGENE, Ore. — Nothing has ever come easy for El Centro native Marshaun Tucker, especially on the football field.

So when the 5-foot-9, 180-pound receiver was waived by the Tennessee Titans in August it really didn't come as a big surprise considering the obstacles he has faced in his football career.

"You know, all through my life it seems as if I'm always ending up taking the long road, and I'm always going through some types of trials and tribulations," said the 21-year-old Tucker, a 1997 graduate of Central Union High School. "For me, this is just a stumbling block that I have to overcome."

After playing two years at the University of Oregon in Eugene, where he finished with 50 receptions for 871 yards and six touchdowns his senior season, Tucker signed with Tennessee as a rookie free-agent following the 2001 NFL college player draft.

From the get go things seemed to be going against Tucker, who also played at Southwestern College in Chula Vista. First, he wasn't selected in the draft, which had been one of his goals, then he had to miss two weeks of the Titans' mini-camp practices because of school.

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It may have been because of time missed that Tucker thinks throughout Tennessee's training camp he wasn't given the opportunity to compete for one of the team's receiver spots.

"To me, I think it's all politics. I think I was as good as some of those other guys they kept," said Tucker. "But that's the way it is. I kind of knew how it was, but I didn't know it was that bad. You really can't get heartbroken over something like this. Players get released and cut every day, but you have to understand that the NFL is a business."

While he now understands how brutal the business aspect of the NFL can be and what that entails, he said getting released initially was hard for him to take.

"That was really tough for me. I had always done good wherever I ended up playing, maybe not at first, but I ended up playing pretty good. Then with this, I felt like I failed," Tucker said. "But I know that while I was there I tried my best and gave it all I had. That's one of the positive things I can take away from that."

Although making it to the NFL is his first priority, Tucker said should nothing come around by this time next year he would consider taking his game to the Canadian Football League. He added he wouldn't want to make a career of playing in the CFL but use it as a stepping stone to get into the NFL.

For now, Tucker is back in Eugene at the University of Oregon working on getting his bachelor's degree in sociology.

With a degree in sociology Tucker would be able to work in a field that interests him as much as football — helping children.

Tucker said he realizes the importance of going to school, getting an education and getting a degree.

"For me, now, school always comes first. Regardless of football, I'd still feel that way about school," said Tucker. "If I didn't focus on school I'd probably just be back in El Centro doing nothing. It took me a long time to realize how important school really is. I think not until my first year at Southwestern did I realize that. But it's real important to go to school because without a good education you really can't do much."

Getting released by Tennessee has opened a few doors for Tucker and has helped him learn lessons, not only in football but in life.

"Whenever I go and talk to kids around here I always tell them that there's always going to be some kind of stumbling block in their way, but they just have to overcome them," said Tucker. "The NFL isn't as big as people think it is. For me, it's just another step. What I take away from this experience is that it's just that, just an experience."

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