That paid off during the 1985 season when he collected a career-high seven interceptions for a league-leading 189 return yards, and was selected to play in the Pro Bowl. That season, he also helped New England fight its way to the AFC Championship title and Super Bowl XX.
“After we lost to Cleveland (in the fifth game of the year to start 2-3), our season where we had so much promise, was about to go haywire,” Marion said. “We all had a big meltdown in the locker room afterwards and we just knew we were better than that.
“From that point, we put together nine wins and ended up making the Wild Card. We made a good run and ended up winning all three of our playoff games and got into the Super Bowl against the (Chicago) Bears.”
Originally chosen in the fifth round of the 1982 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami, Marion would play for 10 seasons with New England, 1982-91. What makes him most proud of his career?
“Just my longevity and some of the things that I’ve accomplished – being on the 35th All-Century team and the 50th Anniversary team for the Patriots,” Marion said. “Just to be thought of in that way for all the people that played there. You leave it on the field and let the fans and the media judge what type of player you were.”
Marion has demonstrated the same work ethic in his post-playing careers. First in the food business and now in automobile sales.
“I had two Damon’s restaurant franchises for 21 years,” Marion said. “After that, a good friend of mine, (auto dealership owner) David Maus, asked me what was I going to do. I said, ‘Well, I’ve been working pretty much right out of college for the Patriots and for the last 21 years I’ve been my own boss. I really don’t know.’
“He said, ‘Fred, I think you’d be great (in auto sales).’ One thing led to another and I worked my way up from sales, to assistant manager, to sales manager and then the general sales manager of a Toyota store, which I managed and operated for eight years.
“I got recruited by the Jenkins Automotive Group (in 2015) to be a partner in the store I’m in right now (Thornton Road Hyundai in the Atlanta suburb of Lithia Springs). We bought the store and became partners with Mr. Don Jenkins in 2016.”
Marion sees similarities between his first job as a free safety with the Patriots with 29 career interceptions, and now as the owner of an auto dealership with over 75 employees.
“There’s still that team, the managers and everybody work together to reach goals. It’s no different from a football team. Everybody needs to put in to make the puzzle complete. Without that piece, it affects the whole,” Marion said. “I see these guys, how they set their goals and how we work each and every day to accomplish our goals. That’s the exciting and the challenging part of it, that it’s still competitive.
“I battled and fought 10 years out there on the gridiron and I thank God that I’m still in my right mind. My body feels good, my health is good. I’ve been blessed. When I look back, I wouldn’t change my life for anything.”