Mesa, Ariz. – Arizona Rattlers’ offensive line coach Mark Tucker has a wealth of knowledge and experience to give his young offensive line. Not only does he know how to coach the line, but wasn’t too shabby of a player in his day.
Tucker has been a strong presence for the Rattlers this season, teaching the skills he learned as a player to a young but talented offensive line, which has nonetheless been a stalwart for an emerging offense. He takes pleasure in developing and coaching what he knows best about the game. This season, the Rattlers have given up a meager five sacks while giving quarterback Nick Davila plenty of time to lead a Rattlers offense ranked in the top-five in most offensive categories. Tucker attributes his success as a coach to the ideals and hard work he learned as a player.
“It can be a frustrating feeling not to be out there, but I try to take my knowledge [of football] and plant it in each guy,” Tucker points out that it is great to see this group of guys succeed at the end of the day. “It’s rewarding to see guys have success when they do what you ask and coach them to do,” he says, “we have a bunch of really talented guys; you try to coach them out of bad habits.”
It is one thing to listen to a coach’s lessons, but more importantly to learn from someone who has had so much success.
Coach Tucker has nine championship victories as a coach and player, starting way back as a lineman for Los Angeles powerhouse Banning High School. He went on to learn from the best at the University of Southern California, earning first team All-American honors as a senior and a finalist for the Lombardi and Outland trophies, given annually to the top linemen in college football.
After several seasons in the NFL, Tucker blossomed a friendship with former Rattler Sherdrick Bonner while working ou
t in New Orleans. Looking for work after getting released from the New Orleans Saints, he embarked on a career with Bonner and the Arizona Rattlers. The next year, Tucker helped lead Arizona to a championship win in Arena Bowl XI over Kurt Warner and the Iowa Barnstormers.
“[Playing back then] was unbelievable. It wasn’t about the money,” says Tucker, looking back on his days with the Rattlers. “It was the first time that we played on a team that was a true team,” he says. “We didn’t care about the accolades.”
It had been a while for him since his high school days to secure a football championship in any league, but is quick to say the victory over Iowa “was a great feeling.”
Since retiring from Arena Football, Tucker has continued his winning ways coaching football at local Hamilton High School. With his help, Hamilton has turned into a state title contender every year.
Tucker has a hard time picking between coaching Arena Football and high school football, but has always been loyal to high school kids.
“I’ve been doing high school football longer. [Hamilton] is an established and dominate program,” says Tucker while also giving praise to any kind of football player who works hard. “[High School kids] always come, out rain or shine; they work hard and there is no ulterior motive.”
If there is one moment in Mark Tucker’s career that doesn’t stand out on the football field, it came in 1993 when he provided some very entertaining antics competing on the hit television show American Gladiators.
He says he got brought into the popular event while working out in the weight room at USC. Charles White, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1979, had done some celebrity shows at the time and mentioned they were looking for participants.
“Charles White came up to me and said, ‘you ever think about being an American Gladiator?’” Tucker recalls, almost laughing it off, “I thought he was just pulling my leg.”
The strength and conditioning coach at his gym was training a few of the participants over the summer and brought him in to meet Turbo, Sky, and some of the cast and do some of the events as an alternate. There he received his nickname from fellow gladiator Sky as the “Rebel.”
“Sky saw me and said I looked like a rebel, so it just stuck.”
The Rebel known as Mark Tucker got his first big break in the gladiator arena when he walked into the locker room ten shows into the season and found some good news waiting for him.
“[Tower and Laser] were beat up after a few shows,” says Tucker. “They posted on a board who was up for those days events, and there was a costume hanging up in my locker,” Tucker remembers after dreaming of being on the show. “I always watched the show. (I knew that) if I ever did (the show), I would kick those guys’ butts.”