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Before he became an important NFL analyst on ESPN, former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Marcus Spears had a fine football career.

Spears, a former first-round pick, never made a Pro Bowl or won a Super Bowl. But part of what has made him a rising voice at the Worldwide Leader is Spears’ experience at both the college and NFL level — and that he had to work for everything.

This is Spears’ journey, from standout defender under Nick Saban to a fan-favorite analyst at ESPN.

Marcus Spears starred at LSU

Recruited to LSU as a tight end, Marcus Spears moved to the defensive line when he joined the Tigers in 2001.

That move worked out for everyone, particularly Spears and head coach Nick Saban. Spears had two catches for 20 yards and eight tackles, a sack, and a tackle for loss on defense.

Spears upped the numbers to 46 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and three sacks in 2002. LSU won the national championship in 2003 in large part because of Spears, who had 13 tackles for loss and six sacks.

Spears even had a 20-yard interception return for a touchdown in the national championship.

Spears earned consensus All-American honors in 2004, when he had nine sacks and 17 tackles for loss. Whoever selected Spears in the upcoming NFL draft appeared to have a star on their hands.

Spears had a long NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells had long built his team around fearsome defenses.

Enter Marcus Spears, who the Cowboys used the 20th overall pick on in the 2005 NFL draft. Nine picks earlier, Dallas drafted DeMarcus Ware — a future seven-time All-Pro pass-rusher — from Troy.

Spears recorded 31 tackles, 1.5sacks, and recovered a fumble in 16 games (10 starts) as a rookie. A year later, Spears started all 16 games at left defensive end, but totaled just three tackles for loss and one sack.

When healthy, Spears was a solid rotational defensive lineman — he started all but three games from 2006-09 — but never became a dominant force in the trenches. Spears recorded 25 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, 23 quarterback hits, three forced fumbles, and a 59-yard fumble recovery in eight seasons with the Cowboys.

The veteran defender also added seven tackles in four career playoff games.

Spears closed his career with 10 tackles and two tackles for loss in five games with the Ravens in 2013.

Marcus Spears is now a rising star at ESPN

Like many of his Dallas teammates would eventually do, Marcus Spears went into TV when he retired.

Spears joined the SEC Network as a co-host of SEC Nation in 2014. As time went on, Spears gradually saw more action across both the SEC Network and regular ESPN.

Although Spears doesn’t always get the attention that some of his coworkers do, he is nonetheless a rising star at ESPN. The network promoted him to a more prominent role on NFL Live for the 2020 season. 

Football fans should keep their eyes peeled on Marcus Spears’ broadcasting career. At only 37, Spears is in a strong position to become one of the NFL’s most important broadcasting voices for decades.

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