A week later, at different press conference, the St. Louis graduate returned with an apology for his earlier behavior.
“Real quick, I just want to say I’m sorry for the way I handled the press conference,” Mariota told reporters. “I know not everybody that was there is here but I was rude and inappropriate, and I just want to say I apologize for it.”
Video from the press conference reveals the reporters’ surprise, and one journalist even told Mariota, “I’m not speaking for everybody, but I didn’t find it rude or inappropriate.”
“I appreciate that,” said Mariota, but he had someone more important to answer to. “It’s funny, because I got an earful from my mom,” explained the Hawai‘i-native. “That’s how I was raised and I appreciate you guys for understanding.
Mariota’s unexpected apology came after his mom witnessed him expressing anger over his performance against the Cardinals, a game that left him with a sprained knee in the first half. Titans Coach Mike Malarkey wasn’t surprised by Mariota’s apology, but was quoted on the team’s webpage saying, “I don’t think it’s a bad thing (he was upset). I like that about a lot of guys on our team. I can tell you a couple years ago it wasn’t emotional after a loss. It is now. And I think it’s a good thing the way this team is reacting.” (Malarkey parted ways with the Titans on Jan. 15).
In an article on the NFL’s website, writer Kevin Pantra gave a shout out to Mariota’s mom: “She raised a good man.”
Pantra continued, “Mariota’s press conference on Sunday was about as ‘rude’ as asking your neighbor to turn down the loud music. Sure, the Titans’ quarterback said he was ‘pissed off,’ which could have triggered his disappointed mother, but nothing Mariota said was outrageous for a quarterback who didn’t play particularly well in a loss.”
In an Dec. 14 column on Inc.com, writer Justin Bariso also commended Mariota’s mom. “Let’s give credit where credit is due: first, to Mariota’s mother for instilling the values in her son that we could stand to see more of in the world today,” he wrote. “And second, to Mariota himself – for showing us a real-life demonstration of emotional intelligence.”
Bariso, who writes a weekly column on emotional intelligence for Inc.com, thought Mariota’s apology was noteworthy as a rare demonstration of manners others can learn from. Why? First of all, the apology was authentic, Bariso pointed out: “Mariota may be a battle-hardened professional football player, but he’s also a son who wants to make his mom proud.”
By showing respect for his mother first, Mariota commands respect from others, wrote Bariso, a sentiment affirmed by dozens of articles praising the quarterback’s humility. In Bariso’s view, humility shows character: “When you’re willing to admit your mistakes, you make a big statement about how you view yourself in relation to others. This naturally draws others closer to you, building trust and loyalty.”
Mariota actions off the field also demonstrate his strength of character. According to the Titan’s website, Mariota launched his Motiv8 Foundation in 2016, to serve communities of Honolulu, Eugene, Ore., and Middle Tennessee. The foundation was a major sponsor in the inaugural Polynesian Bowl, featuring 15 top Polynesian players. Motive8 has also raised money for programs in Hawai‘i through First Hawaiian Bank’s bobble-head charity fundraiser and an inaugural golf tournament at O‘ahu Country Club.