Friday, October 08, 2021

Marshal Yanda goes from playing in NFL to harvesting in Anamosa


Former offensive lineman to be recognized at Iowa-Penn State game Saturday

John Steppe

IOWA CITY — When Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz looked out the window of his office Tuesday, he saw a familiar sight: Marshal Yanda’s truck “Old Blue.”

Yanda, a former Hawkeye lineman, has been spending a lot more of the fall months in Eastern Iowa the last two years after retiring from the NFL at the end of the 2019 season.

Yanda, who grew up in Anamosa and spent 13 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, “for sure” misses playing in the NFL. He still is getting used to not thinking about which defensive linemen he’ll be going up against in the following season.

“I miss the competitiveness in the air,” Yanda said. “You can’t get that anywhere else.”

He knew it was time to retire, though, after having back-to-back healthy seasons in 2018 and 2019.

“I was due to get hurt if I played one more year,” Yanda said. “I never made it more than three years without having a major injury in the NFL.”

In 2020, he spent his Sundays in front of thousands of acres of farmland instead of thousands of shouting fans.

“I’ve helped my dad harvest the crops,” Yanda said. “Which was great spending time with my dad and being on the farm.”

Yanda wasn’t exactly a stranger to Iowa during his professional career, spending offseasons working out in Iowa City with Ferentz’s teams.

More than a decade since first seeing “Old Blue” in Iowa City, Ferentz still gets emotional thinking about his former offensive lineman.

As he talked about current Hawkeye Zach VanValkenburg, he got teary-eyed looking back at Yanda and his work ethic.

“Good football player, yeah, but there's a reason the Ravens basically made him their franchise player,” Ferentz said. “They weren't going to let him leave that building because they understood what he did to the locker room. There's so much value in that, besides running 40-yard dashes, all that other stuff.”

Iowa will recognize Yanda as the newest member of the America Needs Farmers Wall of Honor at Saturday’s game against No. 4 Penn State.

“For Marshal to be honored this weekend is really special, so deserving,” Ferentz said. “What a great list of awardees on that wall, too.”

The award goes to a former Iowa player who showed the “tenacity, work ethic and character” of a farmer.

“People always talked about how I had that farm strength, that natural strength, that core strength,” Yanda said. “That definitely came from the farm.”

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