By Lisa Zimmerman, Player Engagement Insider
There isn’t a lot that that makes Marcus Sherels waiver from his low-key, even-tempered persona. Even preparing for the NFC Championship game following a thrilling division playoff game, hasn’t shaken that. But, that’s how Sherels has always approached his life – one step at a time.
An eight-year veteran cornerback and return specialist, Sherels has not only spent his entire NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings, but he was born and raised in Rochester, Minnesota and attended the University of Minnesota where he was originally a walk-on on the Gopher football team, ultimately earning a scholarship.
He never expected to have a professional football career, and admitted he never really even dreamed about it.
“Being from Rochester, I never met an NFL player so it’s surreal (being in the NFL),” he said. “Being an NFL player is [looked at] like being a superhero. I majored in Political Science and was planning to go to law school.”
It wasn’t until his senior year at Minnesota when he tried out for various teams that he thought it might happen. He ultimately received a call from the Vikings that they wanted to sign him. Sherels joined the team’s practice squad, eventually working his way onto the active roster.
In fact, it was one of his childhood idols, wide receiver Randy Moss, who may have been a component in helping him take that next step.
“When I was on the practice squad, Randy Moss was on the team,” Sherels said. “And I had to cover him on scout team a lot.”
Through it all, he’s had the support of his family and friends in Minnesota who’ve been by his side from day one – many of whom will travel to Philadelphia to root him and the Vikings on. Especially his mother, a lifelong fan of the Vikings whom Sherels acknowledged might have been even more excited by the team’s heart-stopping, last-second 29-24 win over the New Orleans Saints than he was, and is likely carrying that excitement and anticipation of the upcoming game through the week.
“She’s pretty emotional,” Sherels laughed. “She’s probably bouncing off the walls.”
As for his reaction when it became clear what the game’s outcome was, “It was pretty crazy,” he said. “There’s not really any words people can say in that moment.”
On game day, he expects his family in the stands and those back home – including two older brothers, nine nieces and a nephew – to all be wearing purple and heartily cheering on both him and the Vikings. As will his high school and college teammates whom he takes pride in representing on the NFL stage.
“This has been a lot of fun,” he said. “Being a Minnesota guy, I have a lot of support. It’s been cool to share this moment with them. We all grew up together, worked out together and trained together. So, this is awesome for everybody.”
Sherels still plans on a career in law once his playing days are over, but for now, the only thing he’s thinking about is taking the field on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles and trying to bring an NFC Championship back to his home state.
Lisa Zimmerman is a long-time NFL writer and reporter. She was the Jets correspondent for CBSSports.com, SportsNet New York’s TheJetsBlog.com and Sirius NFL Radio. She has also written for NFL.com.