FFG: Anita Marks

Describing Anita Marks’ career in a few paragraphs is a challenge, to put it mildly. Marks is currently a sports talk radio host for 660 WFAN in New York, hosts fantasy football shows for Bloomberg Sports, and does a variety of multimedia spots for the New York Giants’ official website, giants.com.

Before that she was in Baltimore for four years where she balanced hosting an afternoon radio talk show with television duties for the then-launching MASN (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network).  This was all after launched a long, successful career in the Miami market.  She has also played professional football, as a quarterback for the Miami Fury of the Women’s Football Alliance.

Marks has been entrenched in all facets of football for decades and is the perfect Featured Football Girl for any week, not just this one that so happens to feature one of her employers in the Super Bowl.

Melissa Jacobs:  Anita, let’s start with something I am greatly missing these days: fantasy football. You have a history as a fantasy analyst and, of course, currently work for Bloomberg.  When you’re not dispensing advice, how into it are you from a participatory standpoint? 

Anita Marks:  Believe it or not, I’ve been playing fantasy football since 1988. I can remember subscribing to USA Today and I couldn’t wait to open it up on Monday and go back to the sports page to compile all the stats and see if I won my matchup that weekend.

Now, I average 12-15 leagues.  I’m the worst person to date during football season.

MJ:  What is it like to have these multiple roles, which make you a commentator for the Giants, but also their employee?

AM:  That’s probably been my biggest transition. There’s a way to cover a team where you’re allowed to be critical but not be insulting.  But with my background, it’s kind of been my job to be insulting and stir up emotion.Well, when you cover an organization, yes, you’re allowed to be opinionated but you have to be really careful about where you deliver your opinion.  The Giants have never told me what I can and cannot say. They are a fantastic organization, but I need to take it upon myself to be critical but not cross that line where it becomes insulting. That’s been tough for me. 

MJ:  Talk about the differences in respect for female journalists from when you first started covering football to today.

AM:  Obviously it’s changed greatly, but I do believe there are a ton of challenges for women in this industry.   Mainly, there are obstacles in regards to perceptions of football knowledge.  When you’re a man and you walk up to a player I don’t’ think his first thought is ‘How much does he know about football?’  I do believe that goes through a player’s head when he is first interviewed by a woman. Maybe he’s thinking ‘Do I need to bring down my football conversation a bit.’

Because you’re finding such great women in the industry who can talk the game like Suzy Kolber, it helps. I think Suzy’s done a lot for us.  I think Michele Tafoya has done a lot for us as well.  So when you have women like that, who really know football and aren’t just a pretty face, it brings our profession a long way. And I have seen the transition of women getting more respect.

MJ:  Speaking of respectability, who are a couple of  Giants players who make your locker room experience more enjoyable?

AM:  Antrel Rolle. For sure.  I actually covered Antrel when he played at the University of Miami.  My aunt and uncle were both teachers of his in high school.  So what I love about him is that there’s trust there. When a player trusts a media member the information you get from them is priceless.  On top of that, Antrel’s just a great guy and he’s extremely passionate.

The other is Chris Canty. He’s great as well.  When Michael Strahan and Antonio Pierce left the Giants there was major need for leadership in that locker room. Canty’s a great interview, a big motivator and provides great football insight.

MJ:  There are all kinds of interesting stories coming out of Indianapolis this week. What’s the best one you’ve seen.

AM:  I’ve covered this team for two years and one of my favorite players is Victor Cruz.  Last year he blew it up in preseason, but he’s not a good special teams player.  Tom Coughlin’s rule is if you’re not a number one or number two wide receiver on the team you have to play special teams and Victor could not. Then he hurt his hamstring and the team put him on IR.  I was very upset about it.

So this year, Cruz had a horrible camp.  Just horrible.  He was literally waiting by his phone on cut day. He was nervous. But now look at him.

So at Media Day on Tuesday, [popular singer] Ciara is sitting to my left. She’s working for Entertainment Tonight or whatever and wearing a Cruz jersey.  I was doing a live video stream for Giants.com and as you know anything can happen on Media Day. So I pulled out the mic and asked Victor Cruz, ‘If I told you seven months ago you’d be here getting ready to play in the Super Bowl with Ciara wearing your jersey, would you believe me?’  He said ‘Absolutely not, Anita.’ The camera man then turns to Ciara, who heard my question, and she instantly started salsa dancing.’ Then I asked her if Victor Cruz had taught her those moves and she said ‘No, but I’m hoping to get not just one, but possibly two private lessons. ‘  It’s was such a cool moment for Cruz.

This is a young man from Patterson, New Jersey who went undrafted, who came in and had a tough go his rookie year, was placed on I.R. and then had a real poor camp. But he has taken his opportunity and is an absolute rockstar right now in New York.

MJ:  In closing, what’s your official score prediction for Sunday?

AM:  The Giants are the better team. They’re running on all cylinders and peaking at the right time. Their offense is unstoppable. Their defense is better than the Patriots.   Giants 34 New England 21