Oct. 5, 2006
By Craig Chval
Mother knows best?
As a highly recruited high school football player, Greg Marx had narrowed his choice of colleges to three, and Notre Dame was not on the list. Shortly before signing day, he sought his mother's input.
"`Sit on the couch, I want to tell you a story,'" Marx recalls his mother saying. Marx's mother told of how her family had come to Michigan from Canada, lured by the opportunity to earn five dollars per day in Henry Ford's auto plants.
After World War II started, Marx's mother worked on the assembly line. As many Americans did, she bought war bonds. Beyond supporting the U.S. military, Marx's mother had a secondary motive in purchasing the bonds.
"She told me that if she ever had a son, and he wanted to go to Notre Dame, she'd would be able to afford to send him," relates Marx.
That was all Marx needed to hear. And thanks to Marx's football talent, his mother didn't need to cash in those war bonds to see her dream come true.
As a sophomore (freshmen were ineligible for the varsity) Marx earned a starting position at defensive tackle, only to break his forearm in the final preseason scrimmage. Marx came back to win the starting position for 1970 and 1971.
After the 1971 season, Irish head coach Ara Parseghian summoned Marx to his office. "He told me that the team had voted me as one of the captains, but before he announced it, he wanted to make sure I was coming back, because some NFL teams had expressed interest in me.
"I told Ara that if they want me back, I'm in."
Marx capped his Notre Dame career by earning unanimous All-America honors and two post-graduate scholarships. He was selected in the second round of the NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons before injuries cut short Marx's football career after one season.
He went on to earn his degree from the Notre Dame Law School in 1977, putting his law degree to work in both the banking and securities industries. Marx jokes that he is enjoying a big pay raise this year, as the youngest of his four children graduated from college last spring.
"I spent 16 consecutive years putting someone through college," he laughs.
The children - Aaron, Jason, Megan and Maureen - are scattered around the country, and Aaron has done two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine Corps major, piloting attack planes. But Marx still remains close to them, a priority he no doubt learned from his mother, who without a driver's license, rode buses to show up at the door of Marx's dorm room the morning after he broke his forearm as a freshman.
And what of her role in Marx's decision to attend Notre Dame?
"There is a spirit at Notre Dame," Marx says. "It really is a special place."
Indeed, Mother does know best.