The Magical Mindset of Cassius Marsh: ‘Foil King of the North’

By Frank W. Gillespie | Posted 2 years ago

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Cassius Marsh is a man of many talents and interests. The life Marsh is building for himself and his family is diversified, rich, adventurous, and vibrant.

The 6-foot-4, 255-pound defensive end has parlayed his colorful personality into several successful business ventures, and he’s not done.

In addition to his continued passion for professional football, Marsh sparked the first flame for Cameo’s video-sharing website in 2016. Cassius was also the pioneering investor for Cameo, which has grown into a billion-dollar company. More recently, the “Foil King of the North” converted his lifelong love for Magic: The Gathering, and collectible cards of all kinds, into a business in Southern California.

Marsh and longtime friend Nick Nugwynne opened Cash Cards Unlimited on Feb. 26, and there is already talk of turning it into a franchise. Cash Cards Unlimited is located in Westlake Village, CA, down the road from where Marsh and Nugwynne attended high school together. This goes to show what becomes possible when you mix homegrown loyalty with the pursuits of your heart.

In speaking with Cassius, I quickly realized just how down to earth and genuine this dude is. Mellow yet intense, always thoughtful and direct. We started out with a couple of pigskin-magic hybrid questions to have some fun and break the ice. Check it out:

Q: If you could play Magic against any current NFL player, who would it be and why?

A: “It’d probably be either Richard (Sherman) or Tom Brady, because they’re both really competitive and intelligent, so I think it’d make for a great game. Obviously, assuming that they know how to play on the same level that I do -- I think that’d be a good time.”

Marsh has played against former teammate and Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin, but has never had the chance to match decks with Sherman or Brady. Whoever steps up will need some experience and a serious strategy though. Marsh reportedly demolished Jacksonville Jaguars’ 2018 first-round pick Taven Bryan in a Magic game due to apparent deficiencies in deck construction.

Q: What type of Magic deck do you think Coach Mike Tomlin would use?

A: “Coach? Wow, that’s a really tough question. Probably like a Jund modern or a Jund Commander deck, they’re tri-color. Red, black, and green. Aggressive, with some destructive spells and a little bit of control.”

Marsh joined the Steelers on Dec 9, 2020, coming over from the Colts’ practice squad. He recorded two tackles against his former squad in the Week 16 matchup between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. The Steelers stormed back to win the game 28-24, but Marsh was placed on the COVID-19 list shortly thereafter. Marsh was reactivated for the AFC Wild-Card Playoff against the Cleveland Browns, and recorded a tackle and an assist in the stunning 48-37 loss on Heinz Field.

Q: There seems to be a sense of unfinished business in Pittsburgh. After starting last season 11-0, many fans were having visions of a Super Bowl appearance, but that wasn’t in the cards (no pun intended, Cash). DraftKings currently has the over/under set at 8.5 regular season wins for Pittsburgh, which sounds low. What would you tell a gambling man about his odds of “cashing in” on a bet of 9+ wins? What will your role be this season, and how confident are you that the Steelers are going to post double-digit wins again?

A: “I’ll be competing for a rotational pass rusher position, and you know, that’s the third outside backer, but I’m going in with the intention to do whatever the team needs me to do- special teams roles, defensive roles ... I pretty much go into every season with the same mindset. When I get an opportunity to make plays and help the team, that’s what I do. Whatever role the Steelers need me for is the role that I’ll play.

I’m definitely confident that we’ll win a lot of games this season. It’s a talented team with great coaching, so I don’t know what I’d tell a gambling man, but I would be confident to say that we’ll touch double-digit wins and have a great season, go to the playoffs, and do what we want to do. That’s the goal. That’s the mindset.”

Marsh appears to pour passion and a positive attitude into everything that he does, which is the main reason that Cameo kicked off in 2016-17 and has enjoyed so much success.

Q: What can you tell me about Cameo, and your relationship with Steven Galanis and Martin Blencowe?

A: “So, actually I was the first investor in Cameo. Steven and Martin are good friends of mine. Martin actually used to be one of my agents, and represented me off the field. I’ve known those guys for a long time.

I actually did the first Cameo, which was just like an idea. Basically, Martin had a buddy, and he and his wife had a child, and they were Seahawks fans. Martin was like, ‘Hey, just make a quick video congratulating them and say whatever comes to mind’. And so I made a video for ‘em and they just loved it, and the wife like, you know, shed tears, and it was more of a reaction than I thought I would get from a video.

Martin showed Steven the video, and basically Steven was like ‘Yo, this is a business’, and pretty much the rest is history. I was the very first investor, and you know, they turned that idea into a billion-dollar company, so it’s been an amazing journey. Those guys are crushing it right now, so I definitely put my money in the hands of the right people with the right ideas. I’m super proud to be a part of it.”

That investment paid off, and Marsh spun it into other endeavors. He dreamed up a card collectibles shop concept that is cutting edge, and aims to be the pinnacle of the industry.

The shop features an elaborate check-in system, a “vibe area” illuminated by neon bulbs, and a legit “showroom.” Cash Cards Unlimited offers a unique, boutique-styled trading card shopping experience.

Marsh’s shop is just as heavily involved with sports cards as it is with Magic and Pokemon. Cash Cards is one of the few card stores in Southern California that has a Panini direct contract. CCU works directly with Panini and Upper Deck, and enjoys a huge sports community, including football, basketball, baseball, and soccer commodities.

Marsh’s father and step-brother both played professional football, so athleticism and love of sports runs in the family. Curtis Marsh played WR for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Curtis Marsh, Jr was a cornerback for the Eagles and Bengals.

Q: What’s the most important lesson that your father taught you about football?

A: “I think the most important thing that he taught me, from a football perspective, is to never let anyone outwork you. Respect and enjoy and learn to love the grind of the sport, and working out, building yourself. Yeah, that’s one thing he definitely instilled.”

Marsh’s parents are of mixed races, and this has likely contributed to his vocal stance regarding the social justice movement. He backed such causes as Black Lives Matter, The Legal Aid Society, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Marsh is optimistic about positive change in this area, and believes that it starts with each person focusing on the impact they make within their own spheres of influence.

Q: You’ve shown support for the social justice movement, and a lot has gone on during this tumultuous pandemic period. Do you feel that we’re getting closer to true equality as a society?

A: “My perspective is that I try to focus on touching the people who are around me, and like, and not focusing as much on the stuff that I can’t control. I try to influence as much as I can around me in a positive manner, you know, put good energy out there and be an example. That’s just kind of how I live my life. I like to focus on what I can control, cause there’s so much out there that is out of our control.”

Q: Like you’re saying, education and change clearly start at home, with our youth. Your son Cassius Jr. is part of the next generation. What type of world do you envision we’ll have by the time Cassius Jr. is in his mid-20s?

A: “Man, that’s crazy to think about. My hope is that we’ll have a much more positive world. What I do know, is that there will be a whole lot more mixed people walking around. My descendants are mixed, and I think that everybody, especially if you live in our country, is becoming more and more mixed. Everybody’s a little bit of everything, so I think that’ll be a beautiful thing. People will be almost forced to accept each other, you know what I mean?”

Q: The mother of your child is another interesting character. How did you meet Miss Devyn Adair?

A: (contemplative) “How did I meet Miss Devyn Adair…?

I met her out at a bar. We actually both were being pretty antisocial at the time, and our two friends, her friend and my friend who was on the Seahawks with me, Cooper Helfet, he was the tight end, they dragged us out.

We ended up meeting at a bar, and you know, had an exchange, and then hung out one time, and then pretty much hung out every day or every other day since. I never could quite get rid of her… and here we are today.”

Q: ... and she’s probably sitting right there next to you, isn’t she?

A: (amidst raucous laughter all around) “She’s sitting right behind me, and my mother is sitting there, too. The pressure is on, for that right there … Haha ... Nah, we met up in Seattle and we’ve been together ever since. It’s a beautiful thing, and I’m very blessed to have her.”

Family, football, fantasy, and art are all pillars of an intriguing life, as evidenced by his choices. Marsh is coated with eye-catching tattoos, and can’t say enough about the artwork that current Magic card illustrators are putting into circulation.

These vivid drawings are part of the reason that fantasy cards can fetch such a high value. For example, Magic’s coveted Black Lotus card recently eclipsed $500,000 at an auction. Marsh’s favorite Magic card is a mana card called “Misty Rainforest,” which closely resembles the lush Costa Rican jungles that my family and I are fortunate enough to call home.

Cash’s girlfriend Devyn commissioned a version of the card to be recreated as a painting, with Cassius and Cassius Jr. in the landscape looking out at the water. A lasting representation of family and fantasy, much like a tattoo.

Q: If you woke up tomorrow and God told you that you couldn't have any more tattoos, and that you could only keep one, which one would you keep?

A: “I have my son’s handprint on the back of my right calf. I would definitely keep that one. It’s dope, and it’s like timestamped, too. His hand will never be that size again, so it’s really cool”.

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