Our most recent story about prolific Washington State wide receiver Gabe Marks tells the story of a particularly insightful interview we had last spring. That story, "Gabe Marks is an Oratorical All-American" tries to give some new perspective on the enigmatic player by documenting that interaction.
But Marks said a lot of interesting things in that interview and we could not fit them all into the story. So, here is a transcript of the interview itself.
(Why do you get in so many fights at practice?)
Some people can't handle my competitive nature sometimes. My competitive nature gets expressed physically sometimes. I don't know. I like to win. People don't like to lose. We're all grown men out there, things happen. I don't fight as much as I used to.
(Do you come into practice thinking you're going to fight that day?)
Nah, it just happens. You just get tired of shit.
(Do you remember your first fight?)
Ah, dude, no. I used to fight a lot. I got in a lot of fights growing up. Not at school, I didn't fight at school. Just with the guys growing up. With a group of friends you just, you fight over anything. Basketball games. I used to get in a lot of fights because I'm very sarcastic. Do you remember Teondray?
Yeah, he's a big dude, right? I fought him a couple times back in Venice. We fought a couple times. It rarely went my way. I might have got a couple punches in.
(But that's never stopped you? Losing a fight?)
Nah. It's all about doing it. Let people know you're not about that bullshit.
(Where did you pick up that mindset?)
I just don't take stuff from people, you know? If I don't like what you're saying, I'll tell you I don't like what you're saying. If you don't like that I don't like what you're saying, we have a conflict of interest. I mean you can't do it in the real world now, but growing up, I feel like it was good growing up. Definitely molded my competitive edge, I think.
(Is football a good outlet for that?)
Yeah, I mean, you get to hit people. I don't know. I don't really like to have that much contact when I'm playing, honestly. If I can not get hit, that would probably be the best thing. Just go through a game and keep my jersey clean and go home, that would probably be the best thing. I don't know. I think less football and more just like winning and beating a guy. Beating another grown man across from you is probably the most satisfying thing that could happen. Very primal, you know?
(So from that perspective, how did it affect you to not play your third year and only compete on scout team?)
It was messed up out there for a while. Back then, I mean when I was on scout team I'd purposefully fight people. Just because. Just to make sure that they weren't thinking it was a game out there or anything. Me and coach (David) Lose, we'd plan out who we were going to go after at practice. Those were interesting days.
(Do you think that made the defense better?)
Yeah. The defense never had to play against, like, the scout team is usually, they're not usually challenged. That year I felt like they were challenged at practice every day and I think it was way better.
(So how is it that some starting cornerback at, say, Arizona, who is probably very competitive in his own right, can never match your competitiveness?)
I don't know, man. I'm not going to say he can't match me. I'm just better than him at that moment, you know. Arizona, I was probably, I was having a good day. Things were just opening up and stuff like that. When you get into a situation like that, like when either you're gonna win or he's gonna win, you know what I mean? It's just a primal thing. Either you're going to die, or he's going to die. I've lost my fair share out there but I try to win as many as I can.
(Let me test a theory on you.)
(Are you a Lakers guy?)
The Lakers? Yeah.
(Remember when Kobe came in the league, and the book on him for the first part of his career was that he was this soft rich kid? After the public turned on him because of the accusations in Colorado, that's when everyone started to notice his edge, how competitive he was and how demanding he was with his teammates. He lost control outside the court, but on the court he knew he was in control and that's when he put everything into it. Is there any reason to think losing control a little bit when you had that arrest made you more competitive and pushed you into football?)
Nah, man. I've always … when I'm on the field, I'm on the field. You don't have to worry about all the little stuff you've got going on in class, or what trouble you get into. It doesn't matter when you're playing. It never affected me. It probably made me focus more on training or whatever. Things like that just refocus you a little bit, because it's easy to get complacent and stuff like that. I kind of feel like, sadly, little things have to happen to me all the time just to make me realize I need to stay focused. I wish it didn't have to be like that, but that's how it is.
(But now Mike Leach is taking you to Media Days. So it must have paid off.)
Yeah, I'm just trying to keep this shit going the right way. Trying not to let it go and hit an iceberg or something, just trying to go and stay steady.
(So you live with a bunch of walk-ons, right?)
Not anymore. Parker's (Henry) not a walk-on. He's a dog, now. He's a goddam dog.
(How did you pick those room mates?)
We just started hanging out. In the summer, sitting in the backyard having a couple beers after Friday lifts made it happen.
(Is there a specific group on the team you hang out with the most? I get the impression you float.)
Parker's my guy. He kind of like watches over my soul out there in the real world, because he's cool enough to still … like he's a guy, and he's really tight, but he's super responsible, you know what I mean, so he keeps me out of trouble for the most part. I think me becoming friends with Parker and Brett (Bartolone) and Beau (Glover), I think that was the beginning of the team moving away from what it was when I got here – just a bunch of different groups of people who hung out together but just happened to put on the same uniform – and now it's like we all hang out. Sometimes we'll by hanging out and Kyrin (Priester) will be at the house with like Peyton Pelluer and they're from two different sides of the world, basically. Two different ways of life, but they'll hang out with each other because we hang out together, you know what I mean. I just try to relate to everybody. I think that's important for a team. Everybody gets to be around each other and that's probably the most important part.
(So you do have this group of about 100 friends who have a shared bond through football. But you also exist in the larger context of a predominantly white student body, where a lot of the students come from Issaquah, Redmond, Bellevue, and have some money. So I'd like to ask you about these two tweets.)
Well, yeah. Just people being stupid, man. Sometimes people here feel a little entitled to things that they're not entitled to, you know? I think because we play sports sometimes they think we're not entitled to the things we're entitled to because we're not paying for our school. They don't understand what we do for the school, and how much we sacrifice to be able to play here and the time we put in here so they can come on Saturdays and cheer and have fun, and be really drunk while we're out there dying for the school, you know what I mean? I just want some common decency, because sometimes people forget that it's 2016 and act like I'm in Mississippi in the 1960s. It gets kind of weird sometimes, I have to take a step back and not punch somebody in the face, because I know I'd end up on ESPN or something like that.
(It's got to be tough to feel like you have a soapbox but you can't use it.)
Seriously. People think that if I tweet something like that or we say something like that, that we're just overreacting to something that wasn't a big deal. But just because I didn't come here on academic merit doesn't mean that I'm not capable of understanding a situation. I can figure out when someone is being not tight, you know? I'm not stupid. And I think people misinterpret things and think that just because we play football. Sure, there's some guys who play football who aren't the sharpest mentally, but I'm not one of those guys, man. I'm not one to mess with. I'll tear you up if you mess with me.
(Was there ever much of a chance you wouldn't come back for your senior year?)
No. Not really. I mean, I thought about it because it's there. It's right there. But I feel like that would have been the easy way out. Just saying I'm going to go to the NFL and try it out. But I knew I wasn't ready. There was some stuff I needed to do still, things I needed to work at. And I wanted to help out Luke and all that stuff. When I came back it wasn't really about, it was more about the guys, dude. I really enjoy playing with my friends dude. Like these are really my friends. The guys on this team are really tight and so I immediately wanted to come back and play for them. I mean Leach is going to find other guys, but after this I'm not going to play with these guys again. So I wanted to do it one more time. College football is fun, dude.
(What about when you saw guys like Corey Coleman and Josh Doctson go in the first round?)
Those dudes are on different levels. Those dudes are good man. I didn't think I was there with those guys yet. I had a hell of a year, but those guys are like grown men. They look different and you can tell they've had a little more time in it. My numbers matched up with them but I felt like my work wasn't done to be there. I've got major respect for those guys.
(Do you think you can close that gap in one year?)
I better. I don't want to have to get a real job anytime soon.
I feel like I can be more dominant. I feel like there's a lot more. I want to feel like I can control the game as a wide receiver. That's hard to do. There's not too many guys who can. Jerry Rice did that. HE played wide receiver and controlled football games. He was just out there and he controlled the pace, and when he wanted to go off he'd go off.
Crabtree was like that. There haven't been too many guys who play receiver that can control a game like that. That's what I'm aiming for. It's not really about anybody else. It's just about not being satisfied with myself. I'm not worried about anybody else. If I'm satisfied with my performance, that means I'm where I've got to be and the numbers will be there anyway. We throw the ball a lot.
(Are your celebrations ever planned?)
No, man. They tried to get us to do that, what was that uniform combo stuff? I couldn't come up with any of the celebrations. I was awkward. None of that stuff is ever planned out. I'm just really excited to make plays. It's hard to make a play out there, man. It's not as easy as people make it look.