Long Beach Poly alum Marcedes Lewis put his official stamp on the city’s record books last week when he suited up and took the field for the Green Bay Packers. Now playing in his 15th season, it was the tight end’s 213th game in the NFL, officially giving the 36 year-old Lewis the longest pro football career of any Long Beach product.
Informed of the record, Lewis said he felt humbled.
“I just feel gratitude, honestly,” he said. “Obviously every Sunday or Monday or sometimes THursday, every time I go out there and strap it up it’s about representing myself and my family but the city and the school where I’m from, too. I think about that. I have a great pride in that, that’s why I’m continuing to play at a high level.”
Lewis isn’t just etching himself into local lore at this point, he’s proving himself to be one of the toughest and longest-tenured players at one of the NFL’s most brutal positions. Lewis, a run-blocking tight end, is sixth all-time in NFL history at games played by a tight end, and has moved into a tie for the 187th-longest career of any player at any position in league history.
Making the record even more special is that Lewis passed Long Beach and New England Patriots legend Willie McGinest to nab it. McGinest played 212 games in 15 years, nabbing three Super Bowl trophies and two Pro Bowl appearances with the Patriots.
“I definitely couldn’t have imagined passing Willie when I was young,” said Lewis. “When I was nine years old playing Pop Warner, Willie came to my banquet to speak to us. Then when I played against him in the NFL he was in his 14th or 15th season. He’s definitely one I always looked up to growing up. I just always felt like I was the next coming, that’s why I plate football and basketball at Poly. It only makes sense that it was Willie who had the record, it’s just a blessing to be mentioned in that realm.”
Lewis pointed out that while Poly is known for producing speedy skill players at the receiver and defensive back positions, it was a statement on the blue collar streak of the school and the city that the two longest-tenured pros were a linebacker like McGinest, and a blocking tight end like himself.
“Especially for the way we play, I mean my hand is on the ground,” he said.
Given that, Lewis’ longevity has been impressive, not only in games played but in how few he’s missed. In only three of his 15 seasons has Lewis played in less than 15 games.
As impressive as all the numbers are for sportswriters and football fans, Lewis’ legacy in the city is solidified more by the work he’s done in the community. His completely free football camp hosted at Poly ran for a decade, with volunteers ranging from McGinest to Poly coaches and players, and the attendees include several current Long Beach NFLers, including Jayon Brown who attended and has also since volunteered at the camp.
“It was always a dream of mine to give back in the way that I have, so it came natural to me,” said Lewis. “That energy and vibration that stays in Long Beach, that’ll always be a part of me for life.”
Lewis’ contract with the Packers expires at the end of the season, but he says he’s not planning on retiring yet.
“I’m not done, there’s a lot more left out there for me,” he said. “I feel good and my mind is in a really good place. I’m proud to lead the way for the city from the front.”