Marques Sullivan is a fantastic local success story. The Chicago native starred at Fenwick Academy in Oak Park, where he became one of the nation’s most sought after recruits in the class of 1996. He went to Illinois, where he was a big star Offensive Lineman for Ron Turner’s Illini teams. The first bowl game I ever covered was the 1999 MicronPC.com bowl in which Sullivan was named All-Bowl Team.
The Illini crushed Thomas Jones Virginia Cavaliers 63-21 that night. His senior year, Marques was named first team Playboy All American and third-team FWAA All-American. Marques Sullivan was selected in the fifth round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He started 25 games for the Bills for the 2002 and 2003 seasons, blocking for Pro Bowlers Travis Henry and Drew Bledsoe. In 2002, Sullivan was named Most Improved Player by the Buffalo Bills. He later played for the New York Giants, New England Patriots and Chicago Rush.
Sullivan is involved with many noble causes in the Chicago area. He served as the Director of the Chicago NFL Alumni Football Camp, coached in the Chicago Bears Youth Football Camp, and served as NFL Alumni Executive Vice President of the Chicago Chapter. He was also Vice President of the National Football League Former Player’s Association – Chicago Chapter.
Today, Marques Sullivan is President of the Retired Professional Football Players of Chicago. To quote Jay-Z, he’s “not a business man, but a business; man!”
Paul M. Banks: Tell us about the Retired Professional Football Players of Chicago. What you do as President, your recent golf outing, and other events you have coming up?
Marques Sullivan: The mission of our organization is to give back to the community by continuously supporting youth and education programs. To become the most notable former NFL players organization in the nation. To help our members grow personally and professionally. With that said, it is our goal to help lessen the burden of college tuition for these young adults that are looking to fulfill their dreams of going to college.
We’ve provided more than three quarters of a million dollars to 35 male and female high school seniors in the last 14 years. We also support three under served youth football teams per year by providing them with $1500 in new football equipment to help their coaches teach the game we all love.
Finally, we are taking more of a position to help our guys make that transition from football and/or improve their business professional identity. We subscribe to that old phrase “give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime”. The game is over. We’re trying to help our guys become all stars in the business community by conducting career transitional workshops and put them in front of leading business professionals in the Chicagoland area through a series of networking mixers we have planned. We’re also planning a back to school drive were we’ll give out 900 back packs to students in August. We’re staying busy!
Banks: Certainly! Sounds like you do a lot of great things. How can people get involved with the mission of the RPFPC?
Sullivan: We have approximately 110 due paying members and 10-12 people dedicated to day to day operations.
Banks: What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about football players once their playing careers are over?
Sullivan: The biggest misconception is that we want to talk football with everybody and that’s the only conversation we can have. Many of us have gone on to become very successful in life after football. We’d rather talk business than sports.
Banks: As a former member of the Chicago Rush, what does that franchise need to do to get themselves established?
Sullivan: Well it starts with the AFL itself. I’m not sure where they are as a sustainable league. As far as the Rush, I think a merger with the Slaughter would be a smart thing to do.
Sullivan: I don’t see it getting better. Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin are the elite teams in the Big Ten. Indiana, Northwestern, Michigan St. and Penn St. are starting to become very good as well. Not looking good for the Illini. But if you’re a high school prospect that just wants to solely play in the NFL over anything else, Illinois isn’t a bad choice.
Banks: How do you feel the Patriots are handling the Aaron Hernandez situation?
Sullivan: The Pats won't let this be a huge distraction in their locker room. They'll still be ahead of the AFC East but watch out for those Bills.
Banks: Any Bears thoughts/predictions on the season as we approach the start of camp?
Sullivan: Super Bowl. The Bears have it all to win one, this year.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan, he also writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)
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