All of the experts seem to be very concerned about Marc Marquez after his crash-filled weekend in Indonesia. It’s old news now, but the weekend was one which saw him sit out the race after suffering a concussion after multiple crashes. Are their concerns valid? Sure, if you want to look at it that way.
What we are seeing, and have seen, is a true rider. Inside Marc’s chest beats the heart, courage and tenacity of a gladiator. A true warrior. It’s easy enough to tell the world you are a warrior or to paint the words on your bike or your car so that everyone will know. It’s the backing it up that separates the real gladiators and warriors from the limp wrists who just say that they are in that club and hope no one remembers when they roll over at their first chance.
Think of the riders who could not get back on a plane fast enough after just one crash like Marquez had in Indonesia. Get back on a plane to see their personal doctor, get him to write an excuse slip for them to then take a few races off, get healthy, so they can get mentally on top of the fact that the crash which scared them so badly that they don’t want to ride a MotoGP bike right now. Maybe see their sports psychologist and try and find a path back.
Do I really need to mention names of some of those riders? How about you just mull to yourself about how riders like, oh, say for instance Jorge Lorenzo, Maverick, Sete Gibernau, John Kocinski, Casey Stoner or any host of others would have reacted to pushing that hard and the body-destroying crashes. Think about it. I fear that Lorenzo would have retired after every day Marc endured at Indo’.
At the same time, think about what Marc Marquez has been through in the last two years. A bad crash and an early attempt at a comeback that left him crippled. Once that finally healed enough to go racing again he crashed his dirt bike and knocked himself cross-eyed, a condition for which he confessed there is no treatment, just time. So after sitting out that long, suffering with painful rehab and waking up each morning praying “it’s better today” before he opens his eyes in bed. A great many riders would come back just hoping to be able to sign the back of their paychecks for the remainder of their contract.
This is the difference between a typical rider and Marc Marquez. Even after all of that drama and pain what beats inside the chest of Marc Marquez makes him incapable of just backing off and waiting for a better day. Why? Because that’s how warriors are. Warriors don’t think “just finish”. Warriors live for the fight and victory. I see a lot of Kevin Schwantz and Wayne Rainey in Marc Marquez.
When Sic died, a good friend of mine called my office. He was taking it hard, crying on the phone, lamenting how unfair it was that a great rider like Marco was taken so early and in such an odd crash. I let him vent.
And then I told him.
I told him that the unfortunate reality of our sport is that the very best riders would rather be dead than finish second. They are not sportsmen. They are not athletes. They are not in this for the money nor the fame nor the TV nor the free travel. They do this because that is where the war is. They do this because there is fury and fight in their soul.
A lot of people want Marc to back off. They want him to look at the big picture. They want him to be able to retire one day and enjoy life; maybe become a MotoGP TV analyst/rider, laughing at his own jokes. I don’t agree. What we see every time Marc Marquez rides is the purity of our sport distilled down to its essence: winning and the all out effort to win.
Additionally, what I see every time Marc rides is history. He’s no longer a just a once in a lifetime rider, he is the greatest warrior to ever race a motorcycle. He is the kind of fighter that twenty years after he is gone there will be a Hollywood movie about him and his achievements. He is the kind of rider that every great rider from now until the end of time will be judged against.
In the same way that there has never been one like him, there will never be another rider like Marc Marquez.
I hope he never backs off.