GERMANTOWN, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – These days, 74-year-old Jim Marsalis spends his Sundays greeting the congregation at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Germantown. Marsalis once spent his Sundays playing football.
It’s been 50 years since the Kansas City Chiefs last played in the Super Bowl. It’s been a half century since Jim Marsalis ended his rookie season with a ring.
“It was a gift,” said Marsalis.
The Pascagoula, Mississippi native played college football at Tennessee State where he was an All-American cornerback.
“Nobody ever thought I would be drafted because they said I was too small,” he said.
In 1969, the Chiefs drafted him in the first round. He started every game and went onto help the team win Super Bowl IV. Pro Football Weekly named him their AFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Marsalis added, “Defense wins championships.”
Marsalis never broke a bone and never missed a game. He played nine seasons in the NFL before turning to a career in banking. He and his wife moved to Germantown in 2006.
A few years later, Christian Brothers High School assistant football coach David Ligon first met Marsalis.
“I heard that Jim was in town and I was kind of floored,” said Ligon.
He asked Marsalis if he would come help his high school team. Marsalis said yes.
“It’s rare you get someone from the NFL, and on top of that, volunteering, and on top of that, an all-pro Super Bowl champ,” said Ligon.
Marsalis enjoyed coaching and helping the next generation of players. “I tell kids now only you and God know what you’re capable of doing.”
Marsalis will watch the Super Bowl this Sunday at his church where they’re throwing a party in his honor. He likes how Patrick Mahomes plays and thinks if the defense can match his intensity, they have a good chance.
Many will ask to see his Super Bowl ring; a reminder of the game and the sport that gave hi some of life’s brightest highlights.