Oakland's Marcel Reece passionate about cooking
Every player in the NFL is unique and has interests off the playing field. Every week this season, espnW will profile a player to learn about his other passions. We call it Street Clothes.
A curious thing happens when one Googles Marcel Reece.
Instead of finding only the statistics from his three-year career with the Oakland Raiders, something else pops up as well -- a recipe on the Food Network website for "Sweet and Sticky Applesauce Baby Back Ribs," with his name underneath the title.
"Oh, yeah," Reece said with a wide smile, wiping the sweat off his brow after a day of practice at the team's facility in Alameda, Calif. "That one is my brothers' favorite."
And there is another.
"My Aunt Terrie's famous homemade dinner rolls," which Reece touted as the "best ever." At least a few other people agree, as the recipe has received five-star reviews from a few who have made them at home.
That makes Reece smile, too.
The smile seems to come easily for Reece, a gregarious, 27-year-old fullback who played at the University of Washington and signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2008 before making his way to Oakland.
He grew up in Southern California; he and his twin brother, Marc, are the oldest of six boys.
So standing in the kitchen next to his mother, grandmothers and aunts, helping to do his part to feed all of those growing boys, comes naturally as well.
"I have been cooking since I was [this] high," Reece said, holding his hand up to his waist. "I was always in the kitchen with them."
His five brothers -- there are two sets of twins in the family -- range in age from 15 to 27. All of them are football players. That's a lot of hungry.
"He's actually teaching me some things," his mother, Valerie Reece Scott, said. "He's a great cook. There's times when we got up there to visit him and he's showing us different recipes and we are watching the cooking shows. He loves it."
Reece said he'll cook anything. He's comfortable standing in front of a barbecue, mixing dry rubs and sauces. He'll deep-fry a turkey or whip something up on the stovetop.
"He gets in the kitchen and he just takes over now," his mother said. "It's his passion."
Reece's culinary interests have no doubt been stoked by his growing friendship with Food Network star Guy Fieri.
Fieri, a Northern California native, is an avowed Raiders fan. The bleached-blond, spiky-haired chef has worn his Raiders gear on television, stood on the sidelines at games and done his hit show "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" from the Raiders tailgate parties in the parking lot at Oakland Coliseum.
But it was a mutual interest in mixed martial arts that got Reece and Fieri talking almost every day. They frequently give one another shoutouts on Twitter.
"He came to a game and his sons were fans and I had some fun with them," Reece said. "Then we saw each other at the same MMA event, hung out at the fights and it's pretty much history from there."
Reece regularly heads to Fieri's home near the team's training camp in Napa for some big meals, lighting the grill or firing up the wood-burning pizza oven. Reece said he soaks in the knowledge provided by one of the country's most popular celebrity chefs.
"He shows me the tricks," Reece said. "We are doing stuff all the time."
Fieri said Reece is a quick study with good instincts.
"He has game in the kitchen, but Marcel has game at anything he wants to do," Fieri said. "He's really attracted to it. I invited him up to my house because we were taping one of my shows up there and he stood up there and watched all day. You have got to love food to sit through that."
Fieri said he took Reece to his family cabin in Northern California and used him as a sous chef."I was testing recipes, we had all kinds of food and he was right in the thick of it. He did anything I threw at him," Fieri said. "I'm telling him, 'Saute this and break down that,' and I'm talking to him like he's one of my chef buddies. There wasn't anything he wasn't willing to do."
Reece said he cooks for himself and his wife, Tera, even during the season when practice days are long and grueling.
Reece, in his fourth year with the Raiders, is the team's No. 1 option at fullback. Last season he was an alternate to the Pro Bowl and has a reputation as a versatile player, bucking the stereotype of a line-smashing power runner and blocker. Instead, he's a strong pass-catcher -- he played wide receiver at Washington -- and a difficult matchup.
Not to mention a guy with a very big appetite. But he's not waiting for anybody else to do the cooking.
"I'm a beef guy," Reece said. "I have to have a steak at least once a week."
But Taco Tuesdays are his specialty, the pride of his repertoire.
"Tuesdays don't go past without tacos. We always have it. Shrimp tacos, pork, chicken, I do them all," Reece said.
He said he has found himself in the Raiders' on-site kitchen from time to time.
"I'll cook any day of the week, all the time," Reece said. "In the offseason, I'm up late and I'm cooking at midnight."
There's been a lot of turnover on the Raiders' roster in the past year. Not many of the new players have had the pleasure of Reece's home cooking. At least not yet.
"I'm keeping it under wraps right now," Reece said. "But when the guys cook [in the kitchen], I'll go in there and do a specialty. I just love it."
He has cooked for friend and Raiders running back Darren McFadden.
McFadden likes to needle his friend just a little.
"He's not as good as he thinks he is," McFadden said with a wry smile. "No, really, if he cooks for you, he won't disappoint you."
Fieri takes it one step further.
"I know a bunch of sport stars and all of them are really good cooks, but there's something special about him," Fieri said. "I think the more experience he gets . . . I imagine one of these days we're going to see him firing up in the restaurant business."