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July 24, 2011

49ers Safety, Chris Maragos Interview

by Max Strauss

Chris Maragos first went to Western Michigan University to play college football, and then transferred to play at what he calls his dream school growing up, the University of Wisconsin. He went undrafted after the 2010 NFL Draft. He signed with the 49ers as a UDFA, and made the team’s practice squad in the 2010. He most recently signed with the Seattle Seahawks after being cut by the 49ers. This interview was conducted before the 2011 NFL season.

Download the audio interview with Chris Maragos, click here.
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Chris Maragos : Hey. This is Chris Maragos, #40 for the San Francisco 49ers defensive back. You’re listening to an interview with Max Strauss at

Announcement : My name is Max Strauss with, and I’d like to welcome you to the interview with Chris Maragos. Maragos attended the Western Michigan as a wide receiver, then transferred to Wisconsin to play safety. He finished his collegiate career with over ninety tackles, five interceptions, and two forced fumbles. He entered the 2010 NFL Draft, but went undrafted. Afterwards, he signed with the San Francisco 49ers. He made their practice squad at the end of preseason, but by the end of the regular season, he was on their active 53-man roster. Here is the interview with Chris Maragos.

Strauss : How did you start playing football ?

Maragos : I started about when I was seven years old. I was actually too small to play. We lied about my weight, so I could make a certain weight class to start in smallest division that they had. I actually threw the football from when l was seven years old until high school. We were champs. We were undefeated until then, and that’s when football really became important to me and I really thought that I wanted to invest in those kinds of things.

Strauss : What was your high school football experience like?

Maragos : It was interesting. First off, my freshman year of high school was the first time I ever lost a football game, so that was kind of different. Then in my sophomore year, I had a really great coach who really did a good job. My junior year was great as well just moving up to varsity. I actually transferred schools going into my senior year. I left a bunch of my friends, going to a cross town rival school. That’s actually the oldest rivalry in the state of Wisconsin. I lost some friends over that and I got into a whole situation but if I knew wanted to take my game to the next level, I needed to get into a system that could really showcase my ability and that other school was definitely able to do that. I made the transition, and it ended up working out.

Strauss : How did you get zoned for that other high school?

Maragos : My parents bought a house that was in a different district. They gave you the option of staying in that school where you started out or since you had a house now, in the new district,  you could change since now you’re in a different area so I switched schools since I was able to do that then. 

Strauss : How do you think your troubles in high school helped you succeed at the next level in college? 

Maragos : I like you man I like those kinds of questions. I felt good there’s a verse that I really like that says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  When I look at that, it was alright when I was going through those hard times. I could let these hard times either make me or break me. I could either learn from them or let them tear me down even more. Those issues that I had in high school made me more complete as a person because I was able to understand the different path that I wanted to go down. That’s the truth, I had to make sure that I didn’t have anymore of those hiccups.

Strauss : What was the transition like to Western Michigan ?

Maragos : That was interesting because when I got out of high school I was a walk on into Western Michigan. I was actually playing receiver and I started thirteenth out of thirteen on the depth chart. It ended up working out to where my redshirt freshman year, I was actually starting receiver. Definitely the speed of the game is faster, it’s a lot more physical, its really crisp, you know all of the above and I was able to weather the storm where I could greet the game with a lot more experience as a receiver it set me up to have success at Wisconsin.

Strauss : What was the transition like to Wisconsin?

Maragos : That was a really interesting transition as well. You know me being from Wisconsin, it was my dream ever since I was little to play for the Badgers. I can remember our  football games in little league in elementary and middle school, after we’d get done with our games, we would drive to Madison, Wisconsin and we’d watch the Badgers play. It was always a dream. We mentioned Jim Leonhard. I remember him being a walk on just like him playing when I can, and it turned out I was actually playing in the same position and now we’re good buddies. Just that dream to play with Wisconsin was awesome and when I got back to Wisconsin, I knew it would be a lot of work and it was, but when I finally made the transition to defense I really felt at home with it. I was always perfecting my craft. You always reap what you sow. I wasn’t deep in a whole lot in my first few years in college, because I was putting the work in and was sowing and sowing, and putting work in. It worked out for my career.

Strauss : I read somewhere that you scored a rushing touchdown on a fake field goal. What was that like at Wisconsin? 

Maragos : I did. You know, we were playing my senior year, and I was holding for all of our extra points for my junior and senior years at Wisconsin. It was awesome! We were on the nine or ten-yard line or somewhere around there, at Ohio State in the Horseshoe. We had a play called, and I had a hot read for a fake field goal. I had to read the field goal coverage for Ohio State. They gave us the right look, and I gave them a “Green, Green, Green, GO!” They snapped the ball. I ran off the left side and made a little movement. I then dove for the pylon and ended up sneaking it in there for the touchdown.

Strauss : Who were you keying?

Maragos :  I was keying the linebackers and how they were stacked over the defensive line. And if we got a certain look, then we were going to bury it and run it.

Strauss : That’s pretty interesting that a defensive back would hold for two years…

Maragos :  I’m just trying to be reliable as I can for my team. Wisconsin and Coach Dilmont just really felt I could be that for my team. I had a little bit of experience at West Michigan with it. I was the backup, but I definitely did those things.

Strauss : Do you have a favorite memory from Wisconsin?

Maragos : My favorite memory would be running out of the tunnel for the first time. We were playing Varsity University and that was my first game suited up. I could remember running out of that tunnel and I remember growing up and ever since I can remember, being a Badgers fan and dreamed of running out of that home tunnel and playing for your home state. It was playing it front of your home crowd, and you were representing the state of Wisconsin. That was definitely a special moment. I’ll never forget that.

Strauss : Even though you were undrafted, what was your draft day experience like?

Maragos : It was interesting. I knew that I would somewhere be between fifth to seventh rounds, maybe undrafted, but definitely in the later rounds. For me, I felt that since I was bouncing around high schools and colleges and I only played a couple of years on defense. I was kind of slipping through the cracks the whole time. I think I really didn’t showcase myself on my pro day, on the way I performed, and the numbers that I put up. I didn’t get a combine invite. I knew that it would be harder for me to showcase myself as I didn’t have a lot. There weren’t a whole lot of people that knew about me. It was interesting. I knew I was going to be a later-round guy. For me, I thought that numbers I put up I should have got drafted, but that’s the way it happened. I think that’s the situation when you’re a walk-on for so much of my career. I think it’s just fitting for who I am and the role that I’ve had.

Strauss : What was your first preseason like in the NFL? 

Maragos : It was a lot of adjusting. I think playing big time college football, and then coming into the NFL, is definitely an adjustment. The roster sizes are a lot smaller. The level of athletes is that much greater. Just really the adjustment to really pattern your game. Some guys take time to adjust to both worlds, but once you really get into it. You feel really confident.

Strauss : What was it like to make the practice squad?

Maragos : For me, I was obviously extremely excited to be a part of the organization. I’m competitive so I wanted to be on the roster. That’s the goal I set for myself to go out there and compete and help the team win. But, I needed to help them win on the practice squad. I took every day as an opportunity to get better. I kept looking at my situation, and everything like that. I definitely felt really blessed to be in that position.

Strauss : What was it like when you made your first tackle against Green Bay?

Maragos : That was cool man! The coolest part was, again, coming in a full circle, playing in front of your hometown, playing at Lambeau Field, the stadium you grew up watching. The Packers that you grew up obviously a big fan of. Being able to get my first career tackle, that was my first game I ever got to play in too. It was unbelievable. You can’t write a better script then that really. Especially from what I’ve had to deal with high school and college. I didn’t get a scholarship until my fifth year in college, the road that I’ve taken was very long, but very rewarding and very satisfying to finally be in that position. 

Strauss : What was it like going through the coaching change last year from Coach Singletary to Coach Tomsula?

Maragos : Both of them are great people. Coach Singletary is a great man. He really cares for his players and he’s a very passionate person. I have a lot of respect for Coach Singletary. Obviously the organization went a different route, and that’s what they did. Coach Tomsula stepped in and was another great person. He’s a man of integrity as well. He took a weird situation and did the best he could with it and just did a great job. Both of those guys, I have tremendous amount of respect for. And I just couldn’t say enough great things about both individuals.

Strauss : Have you met Coach Jim Harbaugh yet?

Maragos : Yes I have. I met him once. It was right before the lockout.

Strauss : How excited are you to play for him?

Maragos : I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to compete for him and to help the team win ball games in the fall. Just the type of guy that he is, just his track record… He’s a blue-collar guy. He’s all about doing the right things and doing what It takes. Putting the hard work in to having success and that’s what I’m about. I am about doing things the right way. I’m about not cutting corners. And I think coach Harbaugh Is all about those kind of things. I am just really excited to be alongside of a coach, such as Coach Harbaugh, and I’m really looking forward to competing and playing on the defense.

Strauss : Is there anything else you want to tell your fans that we haven’t really talked about?

Maragos :  We covered the basics pretty well.

Strauss : Do you want to tell me a little bit about the skills camp you have set up in July?

Maragos : Yeah sure. Really when I was in high school, I never really had somebody that gave me a blueprint of what it looked like to have success. To have success you know at a big time college level or even in the NFL. And me, being from this area I want to make an impact for these kids. So we decided to provide the skills camp to give back to the area that I’m from. Also, we want to teach some kids something or hopefully take some nugget of information that I have that they maybe don’t have to go down the same road that I have. Maybe I’ve kind of paved a little something that they can kind of follow. So that’s really kind of the whole heart behind it.

Strauss : At Wisconsin you were recognized for your off the field work as well. Will you tell me a little bit about what you did at Wisconsin?

Maragos : Yeah. I was involved in the Blood Water Mission. We raised thousands of dollars to put clean water wells in Sub-Sahara Africa. We also were a part of the Orphan Campaign, which raised awareness for the AIDS pandemic overseas as well. Basically, we sold t-shirts to kids that are around and on certain days of the month and everybody would wear them. One shirt represented one hundred kids, and it would just show how many people in the population are affected by AIDS. Just doing things like that. We were really involved in going to different jails, talking to people about my story. We were really involved with off the field work with discipleships and mentoring, different things like that. It really felt fortunate to be a part of those kinds of things.

Strauss : Of all the things that you’ve done off the field, what’s the one thing that you can remember that you just felt great after doing?

Maragos : That’s a really good question. I think any time that I can go in and talk to high school kids. I think that’s the most satisfying for me. I think part of the reason is because maybe I can kind of relate a little bit better because I had some struggles in high school. I feel like elementary school, middle school kids, some of those kids are not ready or able to understand yet some of the struggles or even really receptive to a lot of things. But when you’re in high school, you are at a unique age that you know, you can really make an impact on kids. I really feel a lot of gratification from just going in and talking to kids and hopefully being able to steer them and give them a couple things that didn’t work for me and a couple things that did work for me that they hopefully try to follow. 

Strauss : If you could describe yourself as any ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?

Maragos : I’ve never asked that. I like that question. This makes me think. Usually questions I can just snap off like it’s nothing; I have been doing this long enough. Alright. I would be a scoop of vanilla, because I’m pretty plain and I’m real basic. There’s nothing too flashy about me, but it gets the job done. With a caramel topping, because it’s got a little smoothness in me. Then, I’d say you’d have to put definitely some sort of nuts and almonds on top. You always got something on the side that’s got to be something different, right? Then you definitely got to top it off with a cherry, because you always got to have the cherry. 

Strauss : For someone who wants to play in the NFL, What’s the best advice you can give them?

Maragos :  Pick a different profession (laughter). No honestly man. I just feel so fortunate, and I think a lot of people, if they want to do it, then put your mind to it. The best advice for somebody, honestly, that wants to play football, is that you have to take care of the details. When you get to this level, if you really want to get to this level, you know leading up to everything you do to get to this point. You have to take care of the  details because they’re so many good athletes. They’re so many good players. It’s the littlest thing that separate the best from the good, and the good from the bad. So I would say the best advice is to take care of the details.

Strauss : Thanks so much for your time! I really appreciate it.

Maragos :  Yeah! No problem man. Thank you for having me!

Announcement : Thank you for listening to the interview with Chris Maragos. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you leave your comments below as well! Please check out my website for other interviews, “LIKE” the Facebook page at, and follow me on twitter at Please subscribe to me on YouTube at Thanks again for listening! Stay tuned for more, and feel free to contact me!

->Here are the personal questions that Chris Maragos answered.<-

Strauss : If you could meet anyone, who would it be and why?

Maragos : I would say Jesus Christ because he’s my savior. The knowledge and the way that he was so bold about what he did. The way he did things and just the love and knowledge that he obviously had. Man, I would love to just be around him and to just watch and see the example that he set. 

Strauss : If you weren’t playing in the NFL, what would you want to do? 

Maragos : There are a ton of things I’d like to do. I’d love to go see places. I’d love to try to use my life experiences to impact others who may be seeking and need some advice and different things like that. I really love that. It’s a choice spending my free time now doing that kind of stuff. But you know really, I think I’d like to be involved with football somehow. I don’t know how that looks, but I definitely would be consider being a businessman of some sort. Like I said, maybe just some sort of motivational speaker or preacher. I don’t know yet.

Strauss : Your major was agricultural journalism. What is that?

Maragos : It’s basically a business writing degree, so I took a lot of business classes at the business school. It’s not necessarily technically considered a business major. Hitting it on the head type deal, but also with those business classes that I took. All of the marketing classes. All of those business classes that I took. I also did a lot of writing classes too. I learned a little about how to write, learned a little bit about broadcasting, some different things, so it was kind-of those two worlds together.

Strauss : Do you have a nickname?

Maragos : Some people call me, “Goose”. My last name is Maragos, so “Maragoose”. Some people call me “Tophs”. Christopher. I don’t know, it was when I was younger. It’s just kind of stupid and kind of lame.

Strauss : Do you have a favorite TV show of all-time?

Maragos : Hm… My favorite TV show of all-time. That’s a pretty good question. I have to say… Hold on man. Let me think about this for a second. This is a pretty good question. In all of the interviews I have done, I’ve never been asked that question. I’ll go with Pawn Stars. It’s where they go in and they auction off like people’s storage units. The guys go through and they try to find people that don’t pay their rent on their storage units. The storage unit places they basically auction them off to the general public, so people buy these storage units at the auction and then, they basically have to guess on what’s in them based on the outside appearance and then they have to dig through them and find stuff. Some people find money in them. Some people find these old memorabilia relics that they pawn off to people and make money off, so it’s kind of interesting. 

Strauss : Do you have a favorite movie of all-time?

Maragos : That’s easier to answer. My favorite movie would have to be, Dumb and Dumber.

Strauss : Do you have a favorite type of pie?

Maragos :  Cherry pie.

Strauss : If you could choose your last meal, what would it be?

Maragos : First, I will start with a nice fruit tray. I’d have nice pineapple, some strawberries, nice dip, all that kind of stuff. Then, I’d work my way into a nice little salad with some different croutons, some almonds, some nice cranberry sauce dressing too. And then we go into the meal, we some nice big rolls. I’d have a nice big ol’ steak, medium rare, to be exact. And then, I’d have some rice pilaf and a baked potato on the side. This is what I would do for desert. Then, last meal on Earth, I would have somebody bring me in a vanilla Dairy Queen cone dipped in cherry. I would have water too. I’m an H20 kind of guy.

Strauss : Thank you for answering the personal questions Chris!

Maragos : No problem. I enjoyed them. Thank you Max!


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