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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

December 18, 2015  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Ali Marpet: BIG addition to Buccaneers, community

By BRUCE LOWITT Jewish Press


Above left, Ali Marpet, a rookie offensive lineman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, protects quarterback Jameis Winston in the game vs the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 20. Above right, Marpet lights the menorah with Rabbi Mendy Dubrowski of Chabad Chai of South Tampa on Jewish Heritage Night at the Tampa Bay Lightning. 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Above left, Ali Marpet, a rookie offensive lineman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, protects quarterback Jameis Winston in the game vs the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 20. Above right, Marpet lights the menorah with Rabbi Mendy Dubrowski of Chabad Chai of South Tampa on Jewish Heritage Night at the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa Bay Buccaneers TAMPA - Ali Marpet is a practicing Jew. Okay, technically that’s true, but for the time being his practicing is pretty much limited to improving his play as the rookie, starting right guard for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

His name is Alexander. He was named after his father’s mother, Alice. That’s how his name evolved into Ali. His father, Bill, is Jewish; his mother, Joy Rose, is Presbyterian. She’s the one with body art; he’s the one with the ponytail and earrings.

Bill is an Emmy Award-winning director and cinematographer and the founder more than 30 years ago of B Productions, which stages live-event high-end fashion shows for clients like Donna Karan and Calvin Klein.


As part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Rookie Club, Ali Marpet, standing foreground, and other players including quarterback Jameis Winston, crouched, bring holiday cheer to patients at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. 
Photo by Allyn DiVito, All Children’s Hospital/Johns Hopkins Medicine As part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Rookie Club, Ali Marpet, standing foreground, and other players including quarterback Jameis Winston, crouched, bring holiday cheer to patients at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. Photo by Allyn DiVito, All Children’s Hospital/Johns Hopkins Medicine Joy Rose teaches “Families and Social Change” at Manhattan College and is an artist and activist for women’s causes. She founded the Museum of Motherhood in New York, and Mamapalooza, producing large-scale cultural events benefiting mothers and families. She also is a songwriter and singer who created the award-winning rock band “Housewives on Prozac.”

The couple divorced 13 years ago but still live in Hastings-on- Hudson, NY, just a few hundred steps, maybe an eighth of a mile, apart.

“I had four kids in five years,” Joy Rose said. “I don’t know how that’s physically possible. … Raising the children was like raising horses in your house, having four horses in your living room after dinner. They were a constant mass of humanity piled on top of each other nonstop every day.”


Ali Marpet, in rear, and his longtime friend Jake Fuerst riding a camel during a Birthright Israel trip in the summer of 2014. Ali Marpet, in rear, and his longtime friend Jake Fuerst riding a camel during a Birthright Israel trip in the summer of 2014. “We weren’t very religious,” Ali said. “We split time between temple and church.”

“It was a very fluid and creative household,” his mother said. “Friday night we always lit the Shabbos candles and did Shabbos together. When we were still together we did a few Buddha retreats for meditation. That was Saturday. Sunday we’d go to church, so we figured all our bases were covered. We did that for many years.”

They celebrated Hanukkah, lighting the menorah and exchanging gifts. Christmas was spent in Jamaica every year.

Ali and his brothers, Brody and Blaze, were given the option of becoming a bar mitzvah. None did, but they participated in the bat mitzvah of their sister, Zena.

In the summer of 2014, Ali and his best friend, Jake Fuerst, went on a free Birthright Israel trip, knowing it was likely the last time he would have 10 days without commitments and training regimens.

The beefy lineman said the most memorable – or at least funniest – moment of the trip to Israel was riding a camel. “We shared a camel and the camel was so miserable and groaning because he had 400+ pounds on him,” Ali recalled in online interview with Shorashim, the organization that sponsored the Birthright trip.

He said the trip gave him a greater appreciation for religion.

After the Bucs drafted him, Ali said he didn’t have to give much thought to whether he’d play in the Bucs’ opening game in Tampa, which started at 4:25 p.m. and ended just past sunset on erev Rosh Hashana. “Obviously you’d like to respect the holiday but you’ve got to go about your business. It’s unfortunate but that’s the way it is.”

He was echoing the sentiment of Geoff Schwartz, a guard for the New York Giants and a former Kansas City Chief. “It’s important to me to honor my tradition … but I know I have a job to do,” Schwartz told the Kansas City Star in 2013. “I know I’ll have my job for only a certain number of years, and I’ll have the rest of my life to go to services and do all that.”

Marpet (pronounced marPET) and Schwartz are among the five Jewish players in the NFL this season, along with Geoff’s brother, Mitchell, the Browns’ offensive right tackle, and safeties Taylor Mays (Raiders) and Nate Ebner (Patriots).

In recent years, the Bucs had two other Jewish players, offensive lineman Gabe Carimi (2013) who was nicknamed in college the “Jewish Hammer,” and fullback Erik Lorig (2010-13).

The average length of an NFL player’s career is, according to the NFL Players Association, 3.3 years. Marpet is a rookie. Geoff Schwartz, though, is playing with house money; his first year in the NFL was 2008. He will miss the rest of the season after sustaining a broken left leg Nov. 29 against Washington.

That Marpet is starting in the NFL is special. That he is even in the NFL is remarkable. Where the Buccaneers drafted him is unheard of. He played at Hobart, a Division III college with 2,344 undergraduates – and no football scholarships – in upstate Geneva, NY. He chose the school for academic reasons. A career in the NFL was, at best, well back in his mind.

Four other players who attended Hobart made it to the NFL, each for one season between 1924 and 1937. Only 10 Division III players made an NFL roster at the start of this season.

“Even getting noticed in Division III is tough,” he said, “but NFL scouting is becoming more and more sophisticated and there’s a larger pool (of players) than they used to look at.“

No Division III player had ever been drafted as early as the second round or as high as 61st overall. Being a Division III first-team All- American, named to the American Football Coaches All-America team, the first Division III player ever chosen to play in the Senior Bowl and invited to the East-West Shrine Game probably had something to do with it.

So did wowing the scouts at the NFL Combine. The 6-foot-4, 307-pound Marpet ran the 40-yard dash in 4.98 seconds, best of all offensive linemen.

The Buccaneers traded up four slots in a deal with Indianapolis to get him.

“Perhaps my favorite guy,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said, “and Lovie (Smith, the head coach) will tell you the same thing – in the draft of O-linemen was Ali Marpet, just in terms of him being a small-school guy that you rooted for.”

It was obvious Ali wouldn’t be a first-round pick on Thursday, April 30, the first of the draft‘s three days. Months earlier he’d been projected a mid-to-late-round pick – if he’d be picked at all.

“I’d sat down with Ali the night before,” his father said. “The second day is rounds two and three, and there’s an emotional difference if you’re not taken by end of the third round. His agent had minimized our expectations that morning, which was a good thing.”

On Friday, family, friends and Hobart teammates clustered around the TV in Bill’s house, watching the draft. Seven offensive lineman had been picked in the first round. That was good. Marpet was moving up.

“Once we started getting to the kids ranked and rated around him I knew we were getting close.” Ali’s father said. In Round Two, four more went at Nos. 49, 53, 57 and 59.

“I got a text from my agent, Ali said, “and my phone rang.” It was Lovie Smith. “At the same time, they called my name” on television.

Pandemonium.

“Obviously it was pretty cool, getting drafted that high,” Ali said. “And it was huge from a confidence perspective. It’s good to know the organization is behind you and believed in you.”

And, his father said, “I loved it that he got drafted by the Bucs” because of the family’s connections to the area. Ali’s sister, Zena, is currently a student at Eckerd College and brother Blaze is a former Eckerd student (he’s now pursuing a doctorate at Northwestern). Ali shares an apartment in St. Petersburg with his other brother, Brody.

And, yes, Bill Marpet agreed, the Bucs had finished the 2014 season with a 2-14 record, the worst team in the league.

“Actually, though, 2-14 wasn’t so bad,” Bill said, “because there’s nowhere to go but up.”


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