The story of Marcus Dupree, as told in the film The Best That Never Was, was an instant hit and should be regarded as one of the top films in ESPN’s 30 for 30. And, considering the reviews that the series has received, that’s saying something.
The story described how Dupree became perhaps the most heavily recruited high school football player ever, how he made his decision to go to Oklahoma, what happened when he went there and then his demise after that between the USFL and the NFL.
Given the Cam Newton saga and all of the drama surrounding recruiting and recruiting violations these days, it was especially interesting to see to what length college recruiters went to try and get Dupree. That said, the Philadelphia, Miss., star says he never took any money from any of them.
Marcus Dupree joined 790 the Zone in Atlanta with Mayhem in the AM to discuss the reaction from the film, whether he believes any opportunities will come from it, if he’s at peace with all that has happened, if he was ever paid by recruiters, why he turned down the money and what advice he’d give to high school athletes at this point.
On whether he was surprised by the reaction surrounding the film:
“I really am. I was even shocked by how good Jonathan Hock did the film. I got so many responses just on Facebook, on Twitter. Before the film, I had 300 followers. Today, I have 3,000 followers.”
On whether the film might open the door to other opportunities:
“That’s a possibility, but I’m just continuing to live my life the same as I’ve been living it. Hopefully it will, but right now I’m still doing stuff with BP and the oil spill cleanup, supervising that. And working with a guy named Michael Dwyer trying to bring back the USFL. That’s what’s on my plate right now.”
On being at peace with everything that’s gone on in his life:
“No doubt. I’ve seen a lot, did a lot. God gave me the opportunity to do a lot of things. Me playing ball and doing the things I’ve done, I’ve made people cheer and I’ve made people cry and made people laugh and enjoyed the little time that I did have the opportunity to play before I got hurt. That’s all that matters to me.”
On whether he was was ever paid by recruiters:
“First of all, Oklahoma didn’t give my mom the double-wide trailer. That was the first thing that Ken … lied about. He lied a couple times in that film, which I told John. He lied about [when he said] I called him three days after I signed and said I regretted signing with Oklahoma. How could I regret it? I just signed it. A lot of the stuff he said in that film wasn’t true. I think kids should get paid to a certain degree, but I didn’t. I got offered a lot of money and I turned a lot of money down. One school offered me $250,000 a year … I didn’t take it.”
On why he didn’t take it:
“My mom’s a schoolteacher, my grandfather was a minister, my uncle was a deacon of a church. Growing up in Philadelphia, it doesn’t take much to live. We all agreed, you didn’t want anybody with their thumb on you, saying, ‘You’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that.’ My mom was like, ‘If it’s for you, it’s going to come to you. God’s going to make a way where it’s going to come to you. So just keep doing what you’re doing and do the right thing and it will come to you.’ That’s why I didn’t [take money].”
On what advice he’d give to high school athletes now:
“Just sit down with your parents, pray about it, make sure that the school is the right fit for you and your talent. And make sure you’re going to be happy with it.”