The son of Italian immigrants Ernesto and Maria, Marchetti enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating high school in Antioch, California, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge as a machine gunner during World War II. Upon returning home to California after the war, he attended Modesto Junior College for a year before joining the football program at the University of San Francisco, where his team enjoyed an undefeated season in 1951. He was selected in the second round of the 1952 NFL draft (14th overall) by the New York Yanks. In 2004, Marchetti was voted to the East-West Shrine Game Hall of Fame.
During his rookie season, the Yanks became the Dallas Texans, which became the Baltimore Colts in 1953. Marchetti played 13 seasons with the Colts and helped them win NFL Championships in 1958 and 1959. During his career, he was noted for being effective against the run and a relentless pass-rusher. He was voted "the greatest defensive end in pro football history" by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972.
He moved to left offensive tackle in 1954, a position Marchetti hated, but admitted that it taught him how to beat a blocker. He returned to defensive end in 1955 and made his first Pro Bowl.
He made a big play in the 1958 NFL Championship Game when he prevented the New York Giants from gaining a first down by tackling the running back just a yard before the first down mark. He fractured his ankle on that same play but, as a team captain, insisted on watching the rest of the historic overtime contest from the sideline with his teammates rather than seeking immediate medical attention in the locker room. The injury forced him to miss the Pro Bowl that year and ended his string of nine consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. Marchetti was First-team All-Pro nine times and a Second-team selection once.
Marchetti's stellar play led to his being called by Sid Gillman, the Los Angeles Rams head coach, "(T)he greatest player in football. It's a waste of time to run around this guy's end. It's a lost play. You don't bother to try it."
He was enshrined in the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1985. He is also a member of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.
Forrest Gregg in an interview: "You ask who was the best ... just my opinion, Marchetti was the best all-around player I ever played against. Great pass rusher. Great against the run. And he never let you rest."
In 1959, Marchetti joined with several of his teammates, including Alan Ameche, and opened a fast food restaurant. The business grew, began to franchise, and would eventually become known as Gino's Hamburgers. It was a successful Mid-Atlantic regional fast food chain and had 313 company-owned locations when they were sold in 1982 to Marriott International, which abandoned the name in favor of their Roy Rogers restaurants.
In 2009, Marchetti teamed with other former key Gino's employees to resurrect the Gino's name. Hiring commenced in September 2010 to staff their first new restaurant in the company's old hometown of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and Gino's Burgers & Chicken, as the company is now known, opened its first store on October 25, 2010. This restaurant has since closed. The company is looking for locations throughout the Philadelphia area, and has restaurants in Glen Burnie, Maryland, Towson, Maryland, Aberdeen, Maryland, as well as at Camden Yards and Ravens' Stadium, in Baltimore, Maryland.Pro Bowl Selection (1955–1965)
All-NFL Selection (1956–1964)
NFL 50th Anniversary Team (1969)
Pro Football Hall of Fame (1972)
Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (1985)
NFL 75th Anniversary Team (1994)
All-Madden All-Millennium Team (2000)
NFL All-Time Team (2000)
In 1999, he was ranked number 15 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, the second-highest-ranking defensive end behind Deacon Jones.
National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame
NFL 100 Greatest Players (#39) (2010)
Modesto Junior College Hall Of Fame (1990)