While still on their cross-country tour to talk to students about bullying, Ravens left guard Bradley Bozeman and his wife, Nikki, said Marshal Yanda, who retired March 11 after a 13-year NFL career, was the perfect person for Bradley to aspire to be.
“To watch your husband come in and start a new career, Marshal is the epitome of the guy you want for him as a wife,” Nikki said on Glenn Clark Radio March 10. “He plays the game relentlessly [and] with heart. … I hate using the word perfect, but a perfect person for your husband to be like because here is someone you can idolize. In the sense of a football athlete, 100 percent every day I want my kids to be like Marshal.”
“[Nikki and I] were talking this morning, and I think Marshal is honestly the first guy I’ve actually wanted to be like or aspired to try to be,” Bradley said. “I’ve never really taken to someone like that before. That guy is amazing. His work ethic, his drive, passion and talent level … he’s done it all and seen it all.”
During his 13 years in the league, Yanda allowed just 20 sacks, earned eight Pro Bowl nods and two first-team All-Pro selections and won a Super Bowl in February 2013.
Bradley says Yanda deserved to retire at the time he felt was right.
“He reserves every right to decide to call it quits,” Bradley said. “Just nothing but respect for that guy. I mean, honestly, I can’t talk enough about Marshal.”
“I’m really sad we’re losing him. I was hoping we’d get one more year with him,” Bradley added.
Bozeman and Yanda only played together for two seasons (2018-2019), but Bozeman saw the impact Yanda had on the team. In a 40-25 blowout loss against the Cleveland Browns in Week 4 this past season, Yanda did not care what the score was and only told his fellow linemen to continue playing hard.
“I’ll never forget, we were playing the Cleveland Browns. We’re losing by like 28 or 21, whatever it was. With 40 seconds on the clock, he turned and looked at me. He’s like, ‘Just block your ass off because I don’t care what the score is. I don’t care what the time is, block your ass off,'” Bozeman said.
“To have a guy like Marshal there he’s been battle-tested, he’s been through the ringer. He knows what needs to be done,” Bozeman added.
Yanda, Pro Football Focus’ second-highest-rated guard since 2010, had allowed only one sack in his last 2,331 snaps. Bozeman says that statistic sounds about right; he saw Yanda recover on plays he was beaten on.
“It’s called falling through a window,” Bozeman said. “It’s whenever you completely whiff on your guy, like you basically touch your toes and come back and try to regroup. I’ve seen him do that and completely recover and lock his guy down,” Bozeman said.
As Yanda retires, the Ravens will look to their younger lineman to fill in the gap: guard Ben Powers, guard/center Patrick Mekari and guard Randin Crecelius. Powers, 23, appeared in only one game last season. Mekari, 22, appeared in 11 games in 2019 and started in five after filling in for injured center Matt Skura. Crecelius, 23, was placed on injured reserve Sept. 5 because of a concussion and did not see any game time during the 2019 season.
Bozeman says while the younger lineman will get an opportunity to play, he will continue to better himself, too.
“We’re all going to be asked to step up as a unit because Marshal leaves a big hole there,” Bozeman said. “[He’s] such a great guy like we’ve talked about before, but those guys are going to get an opportunity and I’m going to have to continue to progress myself.”
To hear more from Bradley and Nikki Bozeman, listen to the full interview here:
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