Norcross grad uses team attitude in politics



There was a time when Marsay Simpson's main goal was getting in the end zone. As a running back at Norcross High School and later as a fullback at the University of Georgia, Simpson was always about team.

That mentality hasn't changed for the 1992 Norcross grad, even if the team has. These days the 33-year-old's goal is helping U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., get his message out while helping the senator's constituents. It's a rewarding job for the newly married Simpson, who lives in Tucker and works out of Chambliss' Atlanta office as a regional representative.

"I get to go out and help people," Simpson said. "When the senator asks: 'What do you think of this?' you realize how important the job is."

Simpson starred at Norcross, playing for Theo Caldwell in an offense that was very unique to Gwinnett in the early '90s. A high-scoring team, Norcross spread you out with the run-and-shoot, and when quarterback Matt Wyrick wasn't hitting Juan Daniels (who also played at Georgia) with passes, Simpson was making teams pay with the run.

He earned a scholarship to Georgia, where he bulked up to play fullback, and majored in social work. He wasn't sure what career path he wanted to take, but shortly after graduation in 1997 a friend put Simpson in touch with Chambliss' office and his career was off and running.

"I started two weeks out of college," he said. "I went to work and haven't stopped. I've learned a lot."

Simpson began working in the Macon office for Chambliss, who was then a House member, before moving to the Atlanta office five years ago when Chambliss won a seat in the U.S. Senate. As a regional representative, Simpson said his job is to be Chambliss' eyes and ears in the metro area. He accompanies the senator to events when Chambliss is in town, and also makes appearances and speeches on the senator's behalf.

He spends the bulk of his working time in Georgia, but gets to Washington, D.C. on occasion. There he has met President Bush, who ranks only second on Simpson's D.C. list since the city is also where he met his wife, Aimee.

Still looking like a football player, the affable Simpson makes an impression when he walks into a room. Which makes it even funnier that before changing the spelling of his first name he used to regularly receive mailings that catered to women.

Though his name is pronounced like the words "mar" and "say," the legal spelling is Marisa, which caused him enough problems over the years that he changed the spelling on his business cards to avoid confusion and questions.

"When I was at Georgia, my roommate was Terrell Davis. And he would always ask me: 'Why are you getting all of these Victoria's Secret catalogs and letters from Redbook?'" Simpson said. "He thought it was funny, but I tell you what, I'd be a big female.

"I finally got tired of it and changed the spelling."

Despite a decade of involvement, Simpson hasn't tired of politics. He enjoys his job, likes living in the area and still takes pride in his old high school, which has become a football power again along with winning back-to-back boys basketball titles.

"I feel like a lot of people," he said. "No matter how far you go, if you grew up in Norcross it's always about Norcross."

Todd Cline can be reached via e-mail at todd.cline @gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Tuesdays.

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