By: Santino Filoso
In this week’s Throwback Thursday interview we sit down with Rohan Marley, the former Miami Hurricane and son of the late reggae artist Bob Marley. After leading the Hurricanes with 95 tackles in his senior season, Rohan signed with the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1995, playing one season in the CFL.
RR: When did you decide you wanted to play football?
RM: It started as a child when I was watching the Miami Dolphins play during the 1984-1985 NFL Football season.
At Miami you played along guys like Dwayne Johnson and Ray Lewis, how were they as teammates?
It was great to see the desire that they had for winning and it’s evident in their life today that they continue to win.
What made you decide to come to the CFL and why did you choose the Rough Riders?
I was ineligible for NFL draft and while on tour with my brothers, one of my uncle’s friends called the CFL asking for a tryout for me. I came to the tryout not knowing it was a tryout and was selected by the Rough Riders.
What was your first impression of Ottawa and looking back now what are some of the things about the city that have stuck with you through the years?
I thought that it was a nice and green, very friendly city with a good mixture of cultures. I remember the Byward Market and riding my bicycle through the city to practice, as that was my only mode of transportation.
Why did you walk away from the game after only one season?
Every day whether we practiced or played, once I got home I would play soccer. After that I would spend a lot of time reading the Bible and while I was reading the Bible, I found that my passion for the game started to drift away from the team and more towards myself. I lost my passion for tackling. The more I read the Bible, the more I was taken away from the game.
Was there any particular reason you wore #1?
Number two wasn’t available.
Despite your small size (for a LB), you had a reputation as a ferocious hitter. What was the hardest hit you ever laid on someone?
There were many, but one instance that stands out is a game against the Memphis Mad Dogs. I remember hitting the lineman so hard, that I knocked him out and I became discombobulated myself.
Did you like to trash talk opponents or were you more of a quiet player?
I don’t trash talk, I just speak my mind. If you ask me something, I defend myself. I say it like it is.
Were you superstitious and if so what was your pre-game routine?
I used to spend 3 hours in my locker room preparing my mind. There was an orange tribute shirt with my fathers face on it that I would wear every game. I would also write Jah Rastafari on my socks.
How did you pump yourself up before a game?
On the way to the stadium, while riding my bicycle, I would listen to my father’s music to clear my mind and get peace. I would sit in the locker room, facing my locker breathing in and out, taking deep breaths for about 2.5 hours, thinking about the game and my opponents.
Looking back on your career, what are you most proud of?
The friends I made.
Do you still keep in touch with any of your old teammates?
In 2009 you founded your own coffee brand, what was that process like?
The process has been a huge learning and growing experience. In 1999 when I bought the farm I knew nothing about growing coffee, and from there we’ve gone through so much – changing the farm to organic, taking the coffee from a couple of grocery stores to big distribution deals with Safeway, Albertsons, Krogers, and others. After living in Ethiopia, in 2007, I wanted to have a global coffee company and I believe we are getting there by choosing the right partners and keeping true to our values.
Ads for your coffee have recently been shown at TD Place, talk about how that came to be.
We have very strong ties to Canada through our partnership with Mother Parkers Coffee & Tea Company – Canada is their home base and that’s where they produce our RealCup single serve capsules and take us into the retail market. Being that I played a year of football in Ottawa for the Rough Riders, and the CEO of the company Brent Toevs is from Canada, Marley Coffee has very strong ties to the region. The partnership came to be because of these relationships and with the help of Mother Parkers.
You’re known for being very involved with charity work, what fuels that desire?
It’s natural to give. I grew up with the habit of giving and wanting to do more.
Would you ever consider coming back to Ottawa and watching a Redblacks game?
Absolutely. I would love to.
Thank you very much for your time Rohan and best of luck with your future endeavours!