June 15, 2024

Marcus Mariota, the quarterback, has been in Washington for a little more than a month, and there is usually an adjustment period when a player joins a new team. The transition doesn’t bother the signal caller, though. At Commanders Park, all of these teammates and coaches are already like family to him.

“I make an effort to know everyone. I just try to be who I am,” Mariota remarked. “I really believe that locker room is 100 guys who are my brothers.”

One facet of Mariota’s identity that has guided him for as long as he can remember has a big impact on that Commander-in-training approach: his Polynesian heritage.

Born and raised in Hawaii and half Samoan, the quarterback learned early on the value of being humble, an “us” over “me” mentality and pride in where he comes from and what he represents.

Few in Washington grasp this reality and understand many of Mariota’s deep-seated values quite as well as the quarterback’s new position coach Tavita Pritchard. The two have a decent amount in common. Pritchard is also Samoan and played quarterback in the Pac-12.

“I watched [Pritchard] defeat USC as a child. I will always remember that,” Mariota said. “Hey, Tavita is playing, or hey, Jeremiah [Masoli] is playing,” my dad would say all the time. Growing up, I was always a fan of Samoan quarterbacks. I think it’s awesome to be able to be in the same room as Tavita. It almost feels like a complete circle moment.”

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