Brandon Marshall always seems like a fairly nice man. Each time I've seen Marshall there's a polite smile on his face. Even when Marshall refuses interviews, it's done courteously, like he's declining a neighbor's dinner invitation.
You meet Marshall and think: This is the guy you read about? Him? Him?
"I'm not the monster everyone makes me out to be," he told me at the Pro Bowl in South Florida.
|Brandon Marshall is a Pro Bowl receiver who also catches a lot of trouble. (US Presswire)|
But with Marshall there is the topical and then the subcutaneous. There is also always this question: Can he be trusted? It's a question a team will have to wrestle if it wants to sign Marshall, who has been arrested four times since March 2006.
NFL teams sign players who have killed people -- and dogs -- so why should Marshall be a concern? Marshall's a particularly frustrating case. There has never been a bell-ringing moment for Marshall where he seems to turn the corner and get it. Trouble with Marshall flows like an untamed urinary tract. He doesn't seem to care about rules, either the NFL's or society's.
The NFL's whoring period is under way, and the most physically gifted of the potential free agents isn't Julius Peppers or Elvis Dumervil or DeMeco Ryans. It's the talented, turbulent Marshall. And it's not even all that close.
What Marshall possesses that the other guys don't is baggage. Marshall has so much baggage it could fill the cargo hold of a cruise ship.
There's only one way to interpret the Broncos giving Marshall a first-round tender worth $2.521 million, which is the NFL equivalent of a Powerbar and one-month gym membership. What the Broncos are saying is this: If you want him, you can have him.
It's quite a statement, considering the only receivers better than the 25-year-old Marshall are Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Vincent Jackson and Reggie Wayne. That's my opinion, you'll argue, but you'll be wrong. Marshall is definitely in the top five.
This past season was the third straight Marshall caught at least 100 passes, something only four other players in league history have accomplished (and one of those players is Hall of Famer Jerry Rice).
The Broncos know the whole truth. They understand that for all of Marshall's abilities there is the potential for malignancy.
Marshall has long possessed shifting sands for a foundation and an orchestra inside his head. The accusations of domestic violence against Marshall demonstrate a complete lack of respect for women. In the past few years alone Marshall has faced arrests for battery, disorderly conduct and driving under the influence. Some of those charges were later dropped, others stuck.
That's bad enough, but Marshall has also been suspended for one game by the NFL and was suspended in a separate disciplinary act by Denver coach Josh McDaniels last year. Then, at the end of last season, with a playoff spot on the line, McDaniels deactivated Marshall for "indifference" and lack of "accountability" when the receiver decided he couldn't practice because of a hamstring injury.
Marshall remains, despite that logjam of turditude, a remarkable talent and since NFL teams would sign Bernie Madoff if he ran a 4.3, Marshall will have plenty of offers.
Chicago might be one of those teams and no one should be stunned if the New York Jets get into the Marshall mix. The Broncos might also work out a long-term deal with Marshall deciding the headache is worth the massive kilowattage.
Marshall is an attractive buy, a risky stock that can be purchased at a bargain, but teams that go after Marshall may learn what Denver has.