Marlon Favorite’s delicate dance in arena football

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON Voodoo defensive lineman Marlon Favorite runs a footwork drill during practice at the Superdome on June 19, 2013.
Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON Voodoo defensive lineman Marlon Favorite runs a footwork drill during practice at the Superdome on June 19, 2013.

Marlon Favorite is a defensive tackle with the New Orleans VooDoo, a 6-foot-1, 315-pound wrecking ball who dances after big plays.

The New Orleans native also is a defensive line coach at De La Salle High School, as well as owner/operator of Favorite Strength and Fitness, which offers workout classes four times per week.

In June, he portrayed a high school offensive lineman in “When the Game Stands Tall,” a movie to be released next year. Somehow, he found time in his schedule for 13-hour shooting days.

Later this year, he might release musical tracks he recorded with his rap group, Black Vynm. Dating to Favorite’s days at West Jefferson High and LSU, the group has recorded two mix tapes and an album — and opened for stars from Lil Boosie and Young Jeezy to Keyshia Cole and Erykah Badu.

Most importantly, he’s a husband and father of two.

“There’s always something,” said Favorite, who turned 27 last month. “I’m always working. Guess I’m a jack-of-all-trades.”

Make that a man of many talents.

While hundreds of players in the Arena Football League have to decide when to stop chasing their dream of playing or returning to the NFL and its six-figure paydays — and more importantly, how to support themselves and their families after football — Favorite has multiple options.

Almost too many.

“Marlon just makes it happen,” said Mae Chapman, a Lafayette-based casting director and friend.

“The talents that were God-given to him, he uses all of them.”

That’s why he’s learning how to balance his busy schedule with his family life.

His days, especially during the AFL season, stretch from 4 a.m. to nearly 11 p.m. First, there’s the 5:30 a.m. class he trains five minutes from downtown New Orleans. After a shower, he’s off to VooDoo practice, where he’ll spend the next three hours preparing for the weekend’s game. Lunch is next, but that’s just 30 minutes. After a quick bite, if he’s not heading to De La Salle, he’s meeting with clients from his fitness company. By 5 p.m., it’s time to pick up the kids from aftercare.

“You have to work for what you want,” Favorite said.

No wonder he admires entertainment moguls Steve Harvey, Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry for their ability to balance multiple projects.

His coach understands. Pat O’Hara, now in his second season with the VooDoo and his 19th in the AFL, has worked in the offseason as a movie consultant for “The Longest Yard,” “Invincible,” “We Are Marshall” and “The Game Plan,” and he appeared in “The Waterboy” and “Any Given Sunday.”

“He’s a family man, well-liked in the community, likes to have his hand in a lot of different things,” O’Hara said. “As long as a player can handle it professionally, then I’ve got no issue with it.

“ ‘Fav’ does a good job at it. He does a lot of things and can still help us.”

Life outside the game

Few VooDoo players consider their weekly salaries, which average around $800, as their lone income. Most have jobs they fit around their schedule during football season or are waiting for them when it ends.

Defensive back Demarcus Robinson returns to Dallas in the offseason to construction and warehouse work, his way of staying in shape while getting paid for it. Offensive lineman Lorenzo Breland is taking six credit hours this summer as he works on his master’s degree in sports management at Jackson State; he’s scheduled to graduate in December.

Balancing football and a family with bills in between isn’t easy. After six games this season, defensive back Derrick Boyd left the VooDoo to return to West Point, Miss., with his fiancee, Rachel, and their infant daughter, Sklen.

“We tried to take the opportunity to come there and play, but it was difficult,” said Boyd, who graduated from Central Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in business marketing with an emphasis in sports management. “The job search isn’t guaranteed. If you’re coming from another area, a lot of guys from that area are more equipped because they’re already in their backyard.”

During his one season with the West Texas Roughnecks of the IFL (2010), Boyd worked as the assistant to the head account manager of an oil field company in Odessa. He didn’t work last season, when he played for the AFL’s Cleveland Gladiators, but at that time he was not a father.

Life is different now.

“Right now, I’m still trying to get back on my feet to get my family in the right position,” Boyd said. “It’s just going to be about where I’m at at the right point in time.”

Time management

On the field, Favorite is measured by his 21 tackles and team-leading 71/2 sacks entering Saturday’s 59-54 victory at Pittsburgh. He endured a rough start to his second season with the VooDoo (4-10), which earlier this season lost eight straight games.

“It took all of about a day to realize (last year) that he should be team captain,” O’Hara said. “High character. Doesn’t have bad days, as far as his mental focus. Every day is a good day to him. Solid human being.”

On a different field, he’s mentoring the next generation. De La Salle is coming off a 6-4 season and is hoping to make moves in District 10-3A.

Favorite has been able to keep the De La Salle job during stints in the NFL. He has spent time with 10 NFL teams and two squads in the United Football League, journeys that have taken him from Seattle to Washington, D.C., to St. Louis.

In the recording studio, he’s Big Fav. Suave, poetic and, well, big.

His musical side dates to singing gospel at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Marrero with his cousin, Rondel Dumas. When his football career took off at West Jefferson and later LSU, his music career followed. Games were followed by jam sessions.

“We would do a little party and celebration — win or lose — knowing that we came together as a family to celebrate,” Dumas said.

At 5:30 a.m., Favorite is moving and grooving as he pushes others to reach new fitness highs. By the evening, he’s back to being Marlon. He and wife Tanisha recently celebrated their one-year anniversary with sons Kentrell, 9, and Marlon Jr., 1.

“It’s a challenge, especially when you have two kids and a wife at home,” he said. “You have to work on your time management and find the proper balance, because you can’t do everything. Some stuff I have to decline.

“You have to create a balance. Every day is a challenge for me. Every day, I try to put all this in perspective.”