Brandin Cooks, Mark Ingram, Kawann Short, New Orleans Saints vs Carolina Panthers, NFL Football, December 6, 2015, Tammy Anthony Baker, Photographer Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Knubia Locker Room: Flint-Stones


Career shifts can be labyrinthine and, on other occasions, relatively fluent. The learning curve is steep, but Mark Ingram’s background, intellect, sapience and inherent swagger will serve him well in his new endeavors off the gridiron. 


The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner is amiable and mindful of his interaction with everyone. Unfailingly, he makes each individual feel like they are the most crucial person in his presence during that time. As an all-around athlete, the 5’9”, 215-pound Flint native excelled in track and field, hoops, soccer and martial arts. In addition, he was nationally ranked as a golfer. Genetics can be incredible. But the endowment of good genes sans subsequent work and practice is a relative waste. Mark surmised this early on, and his parents ensured he followed through with his syllabi and extracurriculars. Colleges saw his potential, and before long, Ingram was besieged with football offers. Although humble and down-to-earth, Mark II is a competitor to the “nth” degree. A few years ago, I was in a conversation where former Green Bay Pro Bowl defensive tackle Mike Daniels strolled up and told a story about Ingram’s recruiting trip to Iowa City. 

The behemoth lineman said, “Mark told me, ‘If I come to [the University of] Iowa, we’re gonna win the ‘natty’ [championship], and I’m gonna win the Heisman!’” Laughing, Daniels continued, “Mark winds up at Alabama [instead], and what happens? He wins the ‘natty,’ and he wins the Heisman!” 

Even back then, he was enunciating things into existence. 

As the sun sets on a successful NFL career, the former first-round draft pick in 2011 can reflect on many accomplishments at the highest echelon. The three-time Pro Bowler became the New Orleans Saints’ all-time leading rusher in week 10 of the 2021 season. This feat is even more impressive considering that, quite often, he was part of a backfield/running game “by committee.” After 12 stellar seasons, the man, seemingly manufactured to run the rock, leaves the game healthy. A happily married father of five, he cherishes the time he has to spend with his family. 

The newest addition to Fox Sports Kick-Off and shrewd entrepreneur (an investor in the MLS DC United franchise since 2021) was kind enough to speak to my daughter and me en route to the airport. His parents, Mark Sr. and Shonda were present as well. Mark Sr. and Mark II had just completed the Creating Legends Football Camp in Flint, Michigan, the day prior.* What has been the most challenging part of your transition from the gridiron into broadcasting? 

Mark II: I think I’m just getting into the transition now. The most rewarding part is that I have a great career to look forward to—a tremendous opportunity with one of the best networks in the world. I’m working with an outstanding crew of people, and I’m just trying to grow the show. This is something I’m looking forward to. But this is just the infant stage; the real work starts in a few weeks. The actual reward part of it is still pending. What are you most excited about in entering this career field, and where do you see yourself in the next few years? 

Mark II: I’m just excited that I get to stay close to the game. I’m going to the best games every weekend to discuss football with a great network and crew. I aim to grow and learn in the industry and continue to elevate. I want to be the best Who or what inspired you to go into broadcasting? 

Mark II: I studied communications in college and was interested in it. Also, doing a lot of interviews over the years made it a natural progression. Then came the opportunity; they offered me a job. Everything fell into place. I was dealing with the media throughout college and in my NFL career. The opportunity came along with somebody believing in me. It just fell into place. Knowing how close you are, can you describe how proud you are of your son? 

Mark Sr: Needless to say, I’m proud of him, particularly what he’s accomplished on the field at the professional level. We were hosting a clinic last week, and the essential thing I stated is how he’s become a better father, son, and husband than a professional football player, which speaks volumes. As far as transitioning from the NFL to the Fox Network, I saw it as a time when he could take advantage of it. There always comes a time when you think you still can play. However, in year 12, it’s just a natural progression. Young players come in, old players go out, and I wouldn’t even say he’s old because he’s only 33. But he’s old as far as ‘running back years’ in the NFL. It’s a problem when you’re 33 and don’t have anything to transition into if you haven’t prepared. Fox offered him a job last year, but they offered him too late in the preseason, and he had already committed to his team. So, I’m very proud he has another chance to do it. I believe everything is done in time, and I think it’s God’s plan for him. If he puts effort into it, he knows what it will take to be successful at a higher level and be one of ‘those [main] guys’ for Fox. I’m just looking forward to this next chapter in his career. I always knew that he could go into broadcasting. Sometimes, you speak the words, and it happens. 

Shonda Ingram: I’m so proud of him for all his accomplishments and for moving forward. We’re always there, and we’re always his biggest supporters. We’re just excited for this next phase of his career. It’s a blessing! 

Mark Sr: He’s in a position where he doesn’t have to limp away. He can walk away, or he can run away [neurologically intact]. That’s another plus. We know about your golf skills. Do you have any hobbies outside of golf? 

Mark II: I mainly spend time with my kids. I take them to all their events and activities; my favorite ‘hobby’ is being a father. I still like having fun and doing fun things, but my main activity is being a father. That is everything: watching them grow and play games and sports.



Born in Rockford, Illinois, but reared in Flint, Michigan, he epitomizes the city’s toughness. He stayed sharp growing up, playing alongside and against future NFL stalwarts like Andrè Rison and Carl Banks. Mark Sr., known to those close to him as “Big Mark,” was also a three-sport athlete. 

Former teammate and Michigan State University (MSU) defensive back Donavon Tayor lined up daily against Ingram and Rison in the mid 80s. “We didn’t pay too much attention to him or anyone else coming in because he was an incoming freshman. [However], once he got out there, we noticed quickly that he had athleticism; he was fast, a great route runner, and was smart. I got to know him well because he lived on my floor in the athletic dorm. We also played intramural basketball together during the off-season. In addition, we both ran track at Michigan State during the indoor season. Mark ran the high hurdles, and I was running the 60-yard dash. He wasn’t just a football player but one hell of an all-around athlete,” Taylor continued, “It was fun and real challenging, competing against him. He had some of the same athletic traits as I did, so it was win some, lose some. It was always a good battle in practice.” 

At one juncture, after flourishing on the turf for Michigan State University, he was blossoming in the Big Apple, starting at wide receiver on the New York Giants Super Bowl XXV-winning roster. Ingram is lauded for making what is primarily considered a top 10 drive (if not game), saving, third down, catch and run against the Buffalo Bills. In the process, he shook five defenders out of their cleats–with 13 yards needed for a first down–which would later result in a Giants’ touchdown. That particular reception often obscures that he snagged five passes for a team-high 74 yards in the contest. A lack of a trip to the end zone and a bruising 100+ yard performance by teammate O.J. Anderson may have been the only factor keeping him from a game MVP to go along with his coveted Lombardi Trophy. Yet, he’ll quickly tell you the latter was more than enough. 

Ingram Sr. had well-chronicled (non-violent) run-ins with the law. For the past few years, however, he has enjoyed his family’s company, especially his grandchildren. When I first met him, Big Mark gave me a monologue of his previous transgressions, almost equivalent to a confessional. Grinning, I replied, “Relax, Bro. [Unfortunately] I have some relatives on my Pop’s side of the family who make you look like a choir boy.“ 

While he’s happy to reminisce about his playing days, he often inclines toward laying low. If you want to get him to converse, talk to him about life in general: knowledge acquired, lessons learned and worlds left to conquer. Mentoring is of the utmost importance to him. 

Years ago, we went to dinner after attending a New Orleans Saints game. Amos, the Uber driver who had taken care of us the entire weekend, was invited. He knew that Senior was a professional football player and the father of Mark Ingram II. However, it took him a spell to put two and two together. Amos waxed poetic about how tremendous it must’ve been to be a wideout in the NFL. As he ran down a list of accolades, it became clear that he had the wrong “Mark.” Even though Ingram had played alongside Dan Marino, once corralling four touchdown receptions in one night, our driver had conflated him with either Mark Clayton or Mark Duper (Dolphins star wideouts long before Ingram’s arrival). 

Ingram smiled and never uttered a word in clarification. 


At the Creating Legends Camp, “Ingram II and Ingram Sr. both gave speeches; they praised the importance of hard work from a young age, knowing what you want, setting a goal, and going forward not just on the field but also in the books. Ingram II recalled the time he came home with a ‘C,’ and his dad made him explain to his teammates why he couldn’t play in the game. Both father and son told the children whom they surrounded themselves with is crucial. According to Mark II, ‘All of my friends that I grew up with were successful because we pushed each other, we inspired each other, and we loved each other.’” [1] 

Another individual who has developed a strong relationship with the outgoing yet still discerning Ingram II is his exercise physiologist, licensed massage therapist, and certified fascial stretch specialist, Ron Schwab. Schwab has worked with world-class athletes, Olympians, and NFL players for over 30 years. They were introduced by his former Saints teammate Willie Snead in 2017. Days ago, Ron spoke with me via telephone regarding the former running back’s new career.

Ron Schwab: The most enjoyable thing about Mark is that he is who he is. The great thing is that he will get paid for being himself. He did the ‘Big Truss’ thing in Baltimore, which just blew up. That was just Mark being Mark. It just comes naturally to him. The great thing about seeing Mark II and Senior together is that it really doesn’t seem like a father-and-son [interaction]. But it seems like they’re just two best friends hanging out. And it’s pretty cool to see their dynamic, at least for the time I’ve been around them. Mark Sr. has always been very outgoing and friendly to me. They have both been great, and I have nothing but positive things to say about them. Mark has a natural ‘it factor’; you can’t just walk in and tell someone to ‘be outgoing.’ It’s quite a learning curve [initially], but he’ll be great.” 

Now and then, pundits will deliberate over who is the most incredible father and son tandem of all time in the National Football League. That’s a debate for barstools and morning shows. More important is where they are now and the paths they elect to walk. Bygone are the weekly gladiatorial collisions–absorbed or distributed–which bordered on felonious assault. Both father and son are now free to write outlines for the upcoming chapters in their respective lives. Both have strong family ties and a keen sense of community responsibility. The latter has been exhibited often, sometimes publicly from a philanthropic standpoint and sometimes covertly. Either way, they are acutely aware and willing to utilize their platforms for humanity. Both are constructed for this. New Orleans knows. Baltimore knows. 

Flint has always known. 

You can etch that in stone. 

Words by Dr. Eric Hawkins (Dr. Hawk/@MDHawk on Twitter

*Interview by Jaden Hawkins (@jadenhawkins32 on Twitter


(1) Anderson-Torrez, Devin. “Heisman winner Mark Ingram II teaches Flint kids lessons to last a Lifetime.” M-Live. August 22, 2023

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