U.S. Army Sgt. David Marquez was on his way to reserve training in Dublin when he suddenly heard a pop while driving an Audi A 2018 rental on Aug. 19.
The Los Angeles native got off the freeway and onto Dublin Boulevard to take a look at his car. Sure enough, he had a “wrecked tire” a flat on the rear left.
Motorists whizzed past Marquez, in his Army uniform. Finally, one stopped. It was Oakland Raiders linebacker Tahir Whitehead.
“I wasn’t expecting anybody to stop,” said Marquez, who makes weekend visits to the Bay Area for training.
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Marquez said he wasn’t sure if there were plastic caps over the lug nuts and how to remove them. That’s when Whitehead offered his take.
“He was like, ‘Oh no, you got to take those off with a screwdriver and pop them out,’“ Marquez said. “He got that right for me and pretty much I was loosening up the lugnuts while he was jacking up the car with the kit and we’re right there on the knee together getting to work.”
Marquez said he and Whitehead spoke for 45 minutes while they changed the tire.
“Just about God and family and what’s the issues with the NFL and flag and injustices and whatnot,” Marquez said. “During that conversation, he was well-spoken and I can tell he was highly educated and just really down to earth in some of the topics of family and God and his support for the military. Just a genuine person, that’s how I can really explain it.”
Whitehead isn’t the first Raider to offer assistance to a stranded motorist. In March 2017, quarterback Derek Carr gave a man a lift to a gas station.
Marquez said he was glad that Whitehead showed up when he did because “I had a lot of thoughts on my mind at the time and I started venting.”
“He listened and he truly cared what I was saying,” he said. “He was like, ‘You know what, bro? Just stick with this. Stick with the plan. God has a plan for us and I’ll say a prayer for you.’ I appreciated it. It might mean I got to keep faith and stay on the right path.”
Whitehead now has a fan in Marquez, who said he’s a San Francisco 49ers fan but will buy a Whitehead jersey to support him.
“He just really expressed his support for the military and its veterans,” Marquez said. “I was just impressed by the whole thing. I know he was probably coming from a practice or game. I’m sure he was busy and tired and he had some things to do, but he really wanted to help out.”