Each week during the 2023 season, we’re going through the Eagles media guide to find an interesting nugget.
The Eagles’ PR interns do a great job filling out these little oddities in the media guide and they serve as a good way to meet the players behind the helmets.
This week, we chatted with backup quarterback Marcus Mariota, who wears No. 8 to pay homage to the eight main Hawaiian islands.
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Me: It says you wear the No. 8 to pay homage to the eight Hawaiian islands. Is that right?
Mariota: That is correct.
Me: When did you first come up with that idea?
Mariota: It started at a young age actually. I was playing soccer and my coach threw me a jersey and it ended up being 8. I think just by coincidence I’ve grown to love it and then a lot of people were like, ‘Hey, there’s eight Hawaiian main islands.’ There’s a bunch that go along the chain.
Me: Yeah, there’s like over a hundred right?
Mariota: Yeah, yeah. But there’s eight that a majority of the people live on. It’s very meaningful to me. And that was like one of the first things I wanted to do when I signed here.
NOTE: Last season in Atlanta, Mariota wore No. 1 with the Falcons. It’s the only season in his nine year career where he didn’t wear No. 8.
Me: I know you don’t have another frame of reference, but what’s it like being from Hawaii and then having to live in the continental US for most of your life?
Mariota: For sure. It’s kind of crazy to think about. I left Hawaii when I was 17 and I’m 30. So I’ve been 13 years removed. But there’s a saying back on the islands, ‘You can never take the island out of the boy.’ And I kind of hold that near and dear to my heart. Everywhere I go, whatever team I’ve been on, I try to represent Hawaii in the best way possible. Just try to show people how I was raised, the values that we all were accustomed to being raised with. It’s a mentality. And I do my best to represent it in the best way possible.
Me: What was it like leaving at that age? And some guys leave and go to college and you can get home pretty easy. For you, I’m sure it wasn’t easy.
Mariota: It was not. I was very homesick. I called home a bunch. I was contemplating if that was really what I wanted to do, being away from home. My parents gave me a little bit of tough love and they talked to me a lot about, ‘This was your dream since you were a little kid, to play big-time college football and to chase your dreams.’ It is hard but Hawaii will always be there and I do try to spend a lot of time back home when I get a chance, especially in the offseason. Because it’s such a part of me, it’s who I am. So for me, it’s nice to go home and just refresh that and reset. But it was definitely tough early on.
Me: I was about to ask, how often do you get back?
Mariota: We make it a point to get back whether it’s a month or two when the season’s done. It’s really home for us. My wife and I, when I’m done playing, that will probably be home. But it is hard, right? It’s hard to get out there, especially when you’re playing on the east coast. It’s 9 hours, we have dogs, we have little ones. But we try to make it a point to spend time at home. My parents still live there so being able to take everybody, we kind of pack everybody up and we try to make it a month or two out there. It’s important for me.
Me: What do you miss most about it?
Mariota: The people. And then from there, the food would probably be a close second.
Me: What’s the go-to when you’re home?
Mariota: There’s a dish called loco moco. Basically, it’s a good amount of rice and they put a hamburger patty, they put brown gravy and then they put an over-easy egg on it. It’s an all-encompassing meal. I like it for breakfast. A lot of people eat it for dinner too. But, yeah, that’s my favorite. That’s my go-to.
Me: I gotcha. Obviously, it’s a place where a lot of people visit. If you had to give your best piece of advice for someone visiting your home state, what would it be?
Mariota: Please visit with respect. I think a lot of people come and everyone kind of views it as paradise and sometimes it can kind of upset some of the locals about how they treat the land or treat other people that are there. I would say that, first and foremost. But secondly, enjoy it. It is a slice of heaven. You can never go wrong on any of the islands. Each individual island is very unique. I would always recommend, man, if you have a chance to do that, don’t spend a few days. You gotta go for a week or two so that way you can kind of embrace everything. Indulge in the local lifestyle.
Me: Thank you, man. I appreciate it.
Mariota: No problem.