Anthony Marnell III was a talented enough catcher to be drafted out of high school by the Baltimore Orioles. He elected to play for the University of Arizona then signed with the San Diego Padres, where he had a brief minor league career. The newest member of the Nevada State Athletic Commission isn’t quick to agree with the theory that catchers seem to see the whole field better, be it sports or his successful business career in software and hotels.
As he sits at a restaurant in his M Resort off the Vegas Strip, he does offer some thoughts on the new rule limiting catchers blocking the plate in an effort to reduce injuries. “One game, one play shouldn’t change a career or life. Now old school guys don’t feel that way,” he laughs.
Marnell is now in a group known for being old school, he was appointed to the Commission by Governor Brian Sandoval in March replacing the late TJ Day. It was a series of curveballs coming at him from the start; the suspension of Chael Sonnen for two years for failing another drug test and the inexplicable case of Wanderlai Silva who avoided a random test and now is taking the NSAC to court.
“I was surprised by the PED use in MMA. I played baseball (1990’s) when it (Performance Enhancing Drugs) was becoming prevalent and it has taken awhile for baseball to change that, get it under control. Because I do come from a different sports background, I understand how something can get out of control fast. And we all want to change that.”
One of the ways the candid Marnell sees the role of the Commission, is through more random testing that he says is “coming like a freight train,” and he’s optimistic because “the fight organizations are on board. They don’t want a fighter popped a few weeks out, not good for them, the fans, anyone.”
He also, perhaps again because of his days in baseball, has empathy for some who are PED users. “I think there are exceptions, people make mistakes. In addition to punishing I also think we will look into helping those who might have a problem.”
He isn’t opposed to more transparency from the Commission in carving out clear explanations as warnings and guidelines for violators , even a “three strikes” policy that other sports have used.
Marnell is a welcome fresh approach to a Commission that was growing stale, but he is a team player noting “I am only one of the commissioners,” adding how he was happy to discover ” The close knit family environment” of all involved with governing combative sports. “I wish everyone could see how everyone, judges, referees, commissioners meet for an hour or more after every event, breaking down each round. It’s about the safety of the fighters, the integrity of the sport.”
It’s about seeing the whole field, and Marnell has a keen eye toward the future.
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