People can wish Havre’s own NFL football star well, with a card on display at Boxcars Restaurant & Lounge to sign.
“I think it’s a great thing,” Havreite Faye Brubaker said after she signed the card for Tennessee Titans player Marc Mariani, sidelined for the season with an injury Aug. 23 in a preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Sandy Anderson, who owns and operates Boxcars with her husband, Craig, said the card had just arrived at the restaurant Wednesday morning. Several people had signed the poster-sized card by noon.
Anderson, in between waiting on customers during a busy lunch, said the card would be set up on a table close to the front of the restaurant.
Mariani, a Havre High School and University of Montana football standout, was a seventh-round draft pick in 2010 and was an NFL Pro Bowl punt returner this year.
He has been a standout kick returner for the Titans, holding the record for the most return yards in a season for the team, and was expected to step up to do more as a pass receiver this season.
Both bones in Mariani’s left calf were broken when he was downed after a 14-yard punt return in the first quarter of the Aug. 23 game.
The Titans went on to win the game, 32-24. Mariani was in surgery that night.
He waved to the fans at the game as he was carted off the field.
Titans head coach Mike Munchak said after the game that Mariani’s being sidelined — the Titans put him on their injured reserve list as they trimmed the team to 75 for this season — was a big loss for the team. He expected Mariani to play a “great role” as a receiver as well as a kick returner this season, Munchak said.
Debbie Vandeberg, executive director of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce, said Anderson came up with the idea to send the card as the two talked about Mariani’s injury.
“She felt so bad about him being hurt and wondered how could we do something,” Vandeberg said.
She added that people can go to Boxcars to sign the card through Sunday, Sept. 16. The card will be sent to Mariana Sept. 17.
Brubaker, who owns Hi-Line Lanes with her husband, Ken, said Mariani’s injury hit them hard.
“We were just sick,” she said, adding that the NFL star is a fourth-generation Mariani Hi-Line Lanes bowler.
He was bowling at the Havre alley last Christmas with his grandfather, Brubaker said, and seemed to really enjoy himself.
“He could be just Marc,” she said.
“And, he’s just such a neat kid,” Brubaker said.