Las Vegas Sun

September 24, 2021

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Former Arizona Cardinals leading rusher anxious for UFL season

Marcel Shipp can laugh about it now.

At the beginning of the year when the upstart United Football League began hiring its coaching staffs, Las Vegas Locomotives coach Jim Fassel contacted him to set up an interview. Fassel thought Shipp, a six-year veteran NFL running back, could make a quality running backs coach for the Locomotives.

Shipp met with Fassel and listened intently to his proposal. Then, Shipp threw out an idea of his own.

“After a while, I was like OK, I want to be on the field,” Shipp said.

Fassel figured it was worth a try.

“Then, we worked him out,” Fassel said. “And heck, this guy can still play. He’s got some years left.”

The 31-year old Shipp has further impressed Fassel through the first two weeks of training camp at the Casa Grande Performance Institute in Phoenix.

Shipp will likely be the Locomotives’ top running back when they open the season against the California Redwoods Oct. 8 at Sam Boyd Stadium.

“He’s a solid, solid running back,” Fassel said. “He’s a good blocker, a good powerful inside-type runner, a good receiver and a guy that’s got experience on the professional level.”

Shipp led the Arizona Cardinals in rushing in 2002, 2003 and 2005. For his career, he has recorded more than 3,000 combined rushing and receiving yards with 14 touchdowns.

But the Houston Texas cut him before last year’s NFL season. Shipp waited for more calls from NFL teams. They never came.

Although Shipp said he cherished his NFL days, his primary motivation is not to make it back to the league.

“I just love the game,” Shipp said. “If it works out that way, great. If it doesn’t, great. I played a few years in the NFL and right now, I just want to work and have fun.”

Fassel said Shipp’s positive attitude has rubbed off on his teammates during training camp.

The younger players look up to Shipp because he has achieved success in the NFL, something most of them aspire to do.

“They learn from him little tricks and see how concentrated and focused he is,” Fassel said. “That’s the key — if you want to be good, don’t come in here and think it’s play day.”

Shipp said he was just trying to pass down lessons he learned from veteran running backs when he was young.

Included in that group is one of the greatest of all-time, Emmitt Smith. In 2003, Shipp and Smith were the Cardinals’ two leading rushers.

“I grew up watching Emmitt Smith all my life. I can’t believe I got to share backfield duties with him to this day,” Shipp said. “That’s definitely a highlight of my career.”

Shipp is hoping the UFL provides a few more highlights. Coaching can wait.

“Right now, I still have the desire to play,” Shipp said.

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