Netflix’s Quarterback enables Marcus Mariota to tell his side of leaving the Falcons

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Netflix’s new series Quarterback recently debuted, featuring a trio of signal callers. Patrick Mahomes was the star of the show, earning most of the screen time, and rightfully so. He’s the best player in football right now. Kirk Cousins brought an interesting dynamic to the docuseries and garnered a significant chunk of the show’s attention. However, Marcus Mariota was the most intriguing quarterback featured for Falcons fans.

The current Eagles backup inked a two-year deal to come to Atlanta last offseason as a bridge quarterback for Desmond Ridder, who eventually took over with four games left to play. Marred by inconsistent play at signal caller, the Falcons fell out of playoff contention. Arthur Smith may have even waited too long to bench the veteran.

Nevertheless, the Netflix series gave the former Heisman trophy winner a chance to tell his side of the story and set the record straight following his decision to basically quit on the team and Ridder.

“So I go in the next day, Thursday, and Art wants to talk about the future,” Mariota said following the birth of his child. It was that day that Smith informed Mariota that they would be “going in a different direction” and starting Ridder.

The following Monday, Smith informed members of the media that Marcus Mariota wasn’t in the building and hadn’t been with the club since Friday, one day after he learned of his benching. This obviously looked as if Mariota had quit on the team. However, the former Falcons quarterback elaborated on his thought process, noting a chronic knee injury to be examined and eventually a season-ending surgery.

“Ultimately — it’s a long story, really,” Mariota stated. “So, during the bye week, my daughter was born, Makaia. When she was born, Art brought me in the following day and was, like, talking about the future and kind of what he wanted to do, and they told me that they were going to play Des for the last four games. Initially, he said something like, ‘At this point in time of the year, you know, the playoffs are a long shot, and we just kind of want to see what Des can do.’”

However, Arthur Smith added further context, noting that he was shocked by the decision to get surgery since it wasn’t something they had previously discussed.

“When he and I had that conversation, that’s not what we talked about,” Smith said. “Those are private conversations, but it was more about where we were as a team, and as a player, and what the future might hold.”

It was a meniscus injury, but it wasn’t one that had caused him to miss any time prior to his benching. If you don’t know, a torn meniscus can be extremely painful but doesn’t necessarily impact an athlete as seriously as a torn ACL, MCL, etc. It doesn’t change the fact that he never appeared on an injury report; it didn’t hinder his ability to start games before the benching, and it was a chronic injury.

He was healthy enough to start the game prior but couldn’t be there for a rookie in Desmond Ridder — the job Mariota undoubtedly signed up for in the offseason. He made a business decision, and I can’t say for certain whether or not I would’ve stayed in Atlanta to back up Ridder. It doesn’t matter, though. He walked away from Ridder, the Falcons, and the fans.

It doesn’t mean fans have a right to treat him poorly, but it’s just the fact that Marcus Mariota did quit on the organization. Take it from Arthur Smith, have some grace.

“I love Marcus,” Smith said. “[I’m] thankful that I got to spend more time with him. People look at [football players], and they think they’re robots. They wear a helmet, that they’re these modern-day gladiators, but there’s life outside this building. He gave us everything he had.”

Photographer: Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire

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