Each year, our country comes together to observe the nation’s most-watched sporting event, the Super Bowl. This year, as the New England Patriots take on the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI in Dallas, Santa Barbara will notice a familiar face. Alex Mack, Atlanta’s center, is not only the first San Marcos alumnus to play in the Super Bowl, but the first Santa Barbara County native. In addition to being voted voted the Channel League Co-MVP while at San Marcos, Mack was also a wrestler all four years and a CIF Champion for two.
“It’s awesome to see someone who walked our same halls and played on the same field as us make it to the big leagues.” said junior football player Paul Ingram. “Goes to show that we can accomplish anything.”
After an impressive career as a Royal from 2000-2004, Mack went on to play for four years at UC Berkeley. In 2008, he received the Draddy Award, which is often known as the “Academic Heisman”. The award highlights a player’s performance on the field, in the classroom, and their level of volunteer work in giving back to their communities. In both 2007 and 2008 he also won the Morris Trophy, which is awarded annually to the conference’s best offensive and defensive linemen. After graduating from Berkeley as a legal studies major, Mack was selected by the Cleveland Browns as the 21st pick overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. For his first two seasons as a Brown, he started in every single game he played, but unfortunately never went on to play a postseason game with them. However, he was selected to play in the Pro Bowl three times throughout his career, 2015, 2013, and 2010. But in 2016, Mack, now a free agent, signed a 5-year 48 million dollar contract with the Atlanta Falcons, who went on to become the NFC champions, earning their spot in Super Bowl LI.
“It’s inspiring because we all started at the same place, and it was his work ethic and hard work that brought him up to college and eventually the NFL,” said junior and wrestler David Morales IV. “Even once he got to the NFL he wasn’t on a great team but then made his way to the Falcons.”
But Mack’s success doesn’t end once he steps off the field. His father and cousin both served in the military, so as part of the NFL’s United Service Organization Program, he spent a week visiting and showing his support to our troops on their bases in Afghanistan and Kazakhstan. Mack also enjoys helping to inspire young children, and often visits schools around the country. Even in the midst of his hectic schedule he is still working to earn his master’s degree in legal studies.
“He never wanted to stop learning. In between his sophomore and junior year I let him come on a senior trip to Europe, and I noticed he was always in front of the tour groups,” said Mr. Solis, “He wanted to be in the front so he could listen, so he could ask questions, and take in as much information as possible to better himself academically and as a person. He then applied that same sense of wanting and dedication to football. The Falcons had a good offence last year, and a great offense this year, and a lot of that had to do with Alex Mack.”
Students and admin alike aspire to pursue their passions with the same drive and determination as Mack. Royals today not only can look up to his greatness in athletics, but also the overall grandeur of his character.