Fresh off the heels of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ second Super Bowl title in franchise history, they are back on the field this fall and one of their leaders — offensive guard Ali Marpet — is back on the pages of TAMPA Magazines.
When we first featured Marpet on our 2017 cover, he was a fresh-faced 24-year-old rising standout entering his third year in the NFL. Today, Marpet, 28, is a veteran. Once a little-known second-round draft pick from Hobart College, Marpet is entering his seventh season with the franchise, has twice been named captain by his teammates (2018, 2019) and last season was a key starter for an offensive line that had the oh-so-important roles of opening holes for the running backs and protecting that guy taking snaps named Tom Brady.
In a nutshell, this Buccaneer has become a Tampa Bay treasure. Marpet reflected on last season’s championship run and more with TAMPA Magazines.
Q: Take us back. As you prepared for the 2021 season, what did your gut tell you about the Bucs’ chances of winning the Super Bowl?
A: It may be naive, but I’ve claimed every year there’s always been talent on the roster and my expectations have always been a Super Bowl. I think last year was slightly different, where there was experience obviously and a lot of talent that was able to take us all the way.
Q: At one point in the season, you all had lost three of four games, had dropped to 7-5 after falling to the Chiefs and weren’t even a lock to make the playoffs. What was it like in the locker room, on the practice field and in team meetings that next week?
A: Again, naive or silly, I always thought we had the ability. It was just a matter of execution. Early on, obviously we didn’t execute to the level of our expectations and toward the end of the year it was the first time where you started to get the confidence right. I think after that Chiefs game, we were able to regroup and find the confidence moving forward that we’re actually a good group and we just need to be able to execute the small things.
Q: It takes so many elements to win a championship. As someone at the center of it, what were the factors that gave this squad the edge?
A: Playing at your home stadium was a huge edge. I’d also say that we were pretty fortunate. We were very healthy all year. And I don’t know if that gets a lot of attention but a lot of things have to go right. Sometimes you’ve just got to be a little bit lucky. And the fact we were relatively healthy does help a lot.
Q: What was your reaction upon winning the Super Bowl? What was going through your mind right after the game? Is it still surreal?
A: I’m sure like everybody it really didn’t feel real. Obviously, I didn’t sleep that night. I was just so excited. It was an unbelievable experience and I feel very fortunate that I was able to celebrate it with people I love.
Q: The first time you picked up your phone after the Super Bowl, about how many messages did you have waiting for you? Did any one text stand out; who was it from and what did it say?
A: I’ll tell you the biggest one was probably my mom actually. I don’t remember specifically what she said but, probably something with a lot of emojis. She wasn’t able to make it down to the game because she’s compromised — she had a kidney transplant, so she didn’t at that time feel safe to come down to the game so that was obviously a major bummer for her and for me, totally understandable. Being able to connect with her was probably the most important text message. Most of my family was able to come and I was able to be with them afterwards.
Q: Most of us won’t ever get to know Tom Brady, let alone work with him on a daily basis. What’s it like to be his teammate?
A: I think what’s most impressive about Tom is his enthusiasm and energy for football — something that you think would get mundane after you’ve done it. There are a lot of things within football that are very simple or challenging — hard to execute. But it’s the simple things that gets him excited. And I think that, you know, that’s the most impressive thing really.
Q: How long did you have to enjoy the win before it was time to get back to work?
A: Gosh, I think I was working out two weeks after. I mean, working out is a generous term — more like stretching, with a little bit of movement — but two weeks after the Super Bowl.
Q: How well do you think the team — and you — will handle having such a gigantic target on its back in 2021?
A: You know, I think we’ll meet our own expectations, which is to continue to play at a high level. We know that teams are going to be gearing up for us, and obviously, that’s relatively new for us. But I think that we’ll be able to really play at a high level and if anything that’s more of a motivation.
Q: What gives you the most hope about the Bucs’ chances of repeating as Super Bowl champs?
A: Just the confidence that we’ve done it. We know what it takes to get there. Now, knowing and executing — those two things are different. But again, knowing is important. Just going out and executing, staying healthy really gives us a chance with the confidence we have.