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Willis Marshall: Crafty Celebrity Stories

Willis Marshall: Crafty Celebrity Stories

Retired professional football player Willis Marshall joins The Beer Connoisseur for the next installment of Crafty Celebrity Stories, which features the best tales of ale (and more) from leading actors, celebrities and persons of interest.

Marshall played his college ball at Youngstown State as a defensive back/wide receiver, then he joined the Canadian Football League as a member of the Calgary Stampeders. Following two years in the CFL, Marshall began a long career in the Arena Football League, playing for 6 different teams in his 9-year career.

Beer drinkers like to laugh. What’s the funniest drinking story you can share with us?
Laughter is definitely good for the soul, but unfortunately, I ended up being the butt of this joke. I was back home from college during Christmas break hanging out with friends and relatives who were also home on break from their respective schools. We had the entire night of partying and catching up with other friends already planned out, but of course it all started with the some pregaming (drinking) festivities. As I got through my first 40-ounce Crazy Horse beer (It was the mid-90s and forties were in, don't judge), my cousin who was home from college on the West Coast says "let's chase gulps of beer with shots of cognac; it's a California thing." At the time I thought “wow, I've been missing out, that sounds fun.” Man, was I wrong.

By the time we left the house to go to the actual party I was 2 forties and 6-8 shots of cognac in. I was functioning well before I got in the car but then it hit me like a light switch. My equilibrium became like a baby deer roller skating on an ice rink. The nausea was just as bad. From here I only remember my cousins carrying me out of the car and sitting me on the front porch of my parents’ house with my head against the door (which was the last place I wanted to be left in that inebriated state), them ringing the doorbell and then running back to the car before my mom opened it, and me waking up the next morning covered in a blanket on the dining room floor. Keep in mind I have a mom whose idea of a stiff drink is Kahlua and ice cream. Needless to say, I spent the remainder of that day nursing a hangover while listening to a "you have to make better life choices" lecture all day. Ha! I also learned a phrase that stuck with me through adulthood: "Liquor before beer, never fear. Beer before liquor, never sicker". 

Who is the coolest person you've had a beer with?
I've had a beer with a lot of cool people in my lifetime thus far, but I'd have to say the coolest person I've had the pleasure of sharing a beer with is the late, great blues legend B.B. King. What makes the encounter so awesome is the 4 to 5 stories he told about his childhood and what led him to become a blues musician.

What are a few of your favorite craft beers and why?
I'm a true Michigander so I really enjoy the Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, specifically La Roja. It's smoothness and caramel undertones make it delectable. If I were to go more commercial, Samuel Adams has a good selection, especially when hosting. I also enjoy a cold Jack's Abby House Lager from time to time.

What was your favorite go-to beer back in your football playing days after a game/victory?
My go-to beer during my playing days was definitely an ice-cold Molson or Rolling Rock! I think I became fixated with Molson during my early professional days in the Canadian Football league. They were a big sponsor and we'd always have a fresh keg on tap in the locker room for post-game press conferences. Gotta love Canada. Rolling Rock was a favorite of mine in college due to it not being as filling as the other popular campus beers, especially when served ice-cold. It was also a favorite keg choice, not only in my fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, but in almost every fraternity on campus.

Do you have a favorite (craft) brewery or breweries and why?
I really enjoy Jolly Pumpkin’s beers as I mentioned earlier. It's the consistent good taste and uniqueness of their ales that make them a favorite. 

Have you attended any beer events or festivals that you particularly enjoyed? What made them stand out?
I have attended a few craft beer festivals across the globe. One of the best I ever attended is the Vail Craft Beer Classic. Being an avid snowboarder, I rarely visit Vail outside of the winter season, but the first time I'd ever been to the popular resort town in the summer, it just happened to coincide with this awesome craft beer festival. With over 300 different beers to taste, the streets full of people laughing and dancing and beautiful mountain views, there was still a sort of intimacy the festival maintained that made it feel like a privilege to just be there.

Has throwing a few beers back ever helped or inspired any of your business decisions?
I wouldn't say that throwing a few beers back has helped or inspired any of my business decisions, but it has definitely helped to close a few deals. There have been several times I was at a crossroads with someone while doing business and instead of meeting in an office or board room we decided to meet at a happy hour and converse over a beer with the goal being to find a win-win situation for both parties. The success rate of such meeting is about 85%.

Tell us more about what's "brewing" with DāO Detroit?
DāO is taking the country and the world by storm! We are the only plant-based hair care company that makes and intentionally markets its products to men, women and children, regardless of hair type. In short, DāO is for Hair. This allows families to finally have a product that everyone in the home can use, which also translates to money saved. If you're "hair-challenged" or beautifully bald like myself, don't fret. Our scalp conditioner is made with the same great plant-based ingredients as our other products to ensure a smooth and healthy scalp. Our launch product, Naturel (daily moisturizing spray), has done so well that we are proud to announce the early arrival of our full product line, late May 2018. DāO is also currently in conversation with several high-end South Beach Miami, Detroit, New York City and Las Vegas hotels to place our products in their bathrooms. At DāO we encourage our current and future customers to embrace and be the best YOU that you can be. This means taking care of the mind, body and hair. 

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