IOWA CITY, Iowa – In the early 1990s, Marv Cook was living the good life as an NFL all-Pro tight end with the New England Patriots.
He was being paid well to play a game that he cherished.
But he also was a young man living far from the comforts of home in eastern Iowa. It was at least a 20-hour drive from Cook’s hometown of West Branch to his new residence in Massachusetts.
The holidays, sometimes, were lonely once you stepped away from the NFL spotlight.
But thanks to one of Cook’s former college teammates at Iowa, there was one Thanksgiving in which Cook felt a family’s warm embrace.
Former Hawkeye Peter Marciano Jr., lived in nearby Brockton, Mass., and invited Cook to spend Thanksgiving with his family in 1992.
“It was a nice gesture by him,” said Cook, who played for the Patriots from 1989-93 and seven seasons overall in the NFL. “For me, being 20 hours from home, it was kind of nice to be able to celebrate it with a family and share that.
“It was very, very gracious of his family to have me over.”
Cook thought of that experience after learning on Tuesday that Marciano had died at the age of 48 in his hometown of Brockton, Mass. Cook played at Iowa from 1985-88 and was a consensus all-America tight end as a senior, while Marciano was a star punt returner and receiver for Iowa from 1986-89.
Marciano worked as a representative for the Massachusetts State Lottery. He leaves behind a wife, two children and many grieving friends and relatives.
“I’m just shocked,” Cook said.
Marciano already was sort of a celebrity when he became a Hawkeye as the nephew of former Brockton boxing legend and world heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano.
Rocky Marciano died in an airplane crash on Aug. 31, 1969 in Newton, Iowa, a day before his 46th birthday.
Peter Marciano also was a celebrated athlete in high school and a dynamic punt returner for the Hawkeyes. He held the Big Ten record for most punt returns with 124 until Michigan’s Steve Breaston broke it was 126 in 2007.
“He was really quick,” Cook said of his former college teammate.
After his college career, Marciano played briefly in the professional football league in Italy for a team in Bologna, setting a record with four touchdowns in one game.
He also served one term on the Brockton School Committee from 1993 through 1995, before he was elected to serve two terms on the Brockton City Council from 1999 to 2003.
Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter released a message late on Monday on Twitter, expressing sorrow about the loss of Peter Marciano Jr.
"Mourning the loss of my friend Peter Marciano," Carpenter said. "Words cannot express the sadness I’m feeling tonight. Hope he’s at peace."
Marciano’s death is not considered to be suspicious according to Patriot-Ledger.com.