Brandon Marshall hasn't officially retired from the NFL, but the six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver has remained exceptionally busy since he last caught a NFL pass two years ago. Marshall, the new co-host of "First Things First," also has launched the "House of Athlete" brand dedicated to to support and enhance physical and mental health for the everyday athlete.
Marshall is extremely passionate about "House of Athlete," which redefines the standard approach to lifestyle wellness, giving athletes from all walks of life access to premium resources and tools. This week, "House of Athlete" launched a premium range of five all-natural fueling supplements (mental fitness, immunity, rest, whey protein, vegan protein) that are set in the brand's core values.
An eight-time 1,000-yard receiver, Marshall recorded 970 catches for 12,351 yards and 83 touchdowns in 13 seasons. He's currently 16th all time in receptions, 22nd in receiving yards, and 22nd in touchdowns.
In an exclusive interview with CBSSports.com, Marshall discusses the lifestyle changes he made during his football career and the steps everyday athletes can take to improve their physical and mental health. Marshall also opened up about a potential NFL return and his television career.
Can you further explain the "House of Athlete" brand to all of us?
Marshall: "Back in 2011 when I was playing for the Miami Dolphins and it was the year of the lockout, I started buying equipment and working out at my house -- similar to this year during the pandemic. You saw a lot of the athletes finding a way to continue to move forward and continuing to take care of themselves. So we ended up building this gym in my house and after a month I had Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens, Chris Johnson, Mike Sims-Walker, and Darcy Johnson training with me.
"And we're talking about 300 square feet with one big treadmill and a (weightlifting) rack. In that moment, my trainer and I decided to open up a facility. Long story short, we started this facility and we only train athletes from ages seven up until the professional level. The more I embarked on this journey, the more I realized that we needed to open up for the general population. It was a huge demographic and there's a huge demonstration of people that actually enjoy working out and training.
"Second, they needed it more than us. I was tired of seeing the average person, the average athlete walk in our facility and going through life in pain. That's what 'House of Athlete' is. I just took my 13 years experience playing in the NFL, the integrated approach around performance, medicine, and nutrition, and infused that into 'House of Athlete.'
"There's five things that we hang our hat on, our pillars. If everyone adopts these five things, they will be their best selves. Train, fuel correctly -- and that's macronutrients and supplementation -- be mentally fit, recover, and tribe. No one has ever made it to the top by themselves, so we believe those are the five things we have to educate the athlete on. There's an athlete in everyone and if they can build that into their routine, it becomes a lifestyle. We're just taking that professional athlete -- or the athlete in general -- and putting this into this entire program, giving it to the everyday athlete."
One of your pillars is focused on macronutrients and fueling correctly. How can the everyday athlete achieve that?
Marshall: "Ideally we get all of our macronutrients through food, but it's impossible so that's where the supplementation comes in. This is why we teach people how to approach their plate the right way. What is a healthy carb, healthy veggie, healthy fat, but on the other end of the spectrum -- there's so many things our body needs that we just can't get in food. That's how we dove into formulating the cleanest products on the market. These products -- the vegan protein, the weighted protein, immunity, rest and mental fitness -- the whole product line is to recover and optimize their health.
"Protein is critical for performance, recovery, muscle growth, fat loss. If you don't have protein, there's no way you're walking around as a healthy human being. A lot of us don't know how to supplement and it goes back to that professional athlete experience. My 13 years playing, especially for the New York Jets and New York Giants, I walked into the facility and all the guesswork was taken out of it for me. I didn't have to know about supplementing and nutrition because there was a chef there. There was a coach that told us what to take and when to take it.
"I find that it's hard for the average consumer to navigate us through this unregulated space. That's what we want to do here, teach people what they need, why they need it, and when they should take it depending on their goals. We're tired of seeing people being taken advantage of and not getting what they need by these 'trusted partners' and we'll continue to pound the pavement. We're focused on boosting our immunity during this global pandemic."
Early in your career, with the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins, you didn't have a personal chef telling you what to eat and when to eat. How did you stay in shape?
Marshall: "I think that's part of the journey for all of us. When you're young, you can go bet a burger, chicken wings, junk food and eat whatever you want. You don't feel it. Now, when you get into your mid-to-late 20s, your metabolism starts to slow down and you have to figure it out. As a professional athlete, you have no choice. If you want to stay in the game, you have to figure out nutrition and supplementation and a training regimen that works for you.
"When I was young, I didn't have to figure that out. I just went out there and ran all day, lifted weights as heavy as I could. When the body starts breaking down and the metabolism started getting older, you have to -- have to -- approach nutrition the right way. There's so much sickness and disease in what we're eating and what we are putting in our bodies. I think we're seeing that more than ever right now."
In the latter stages of your NFL career, how did you adjust to changing what you were eating?
Marshall: "Oh it was a process for me. When I entered the NFL, I would go to McDonald's after every practice and get two spicy chicken sandwiches and a triple thick chocolate milkshake. I wouldn't gain a pound and I didn't feel anything. I was balling (laughing).
"As I got older and went to the Dolphins, I didn't change anything I was doing. I had the same approach to food, but I would get on the scale and be up two-or-three pounds. I didn't know my metabolism was slowing down. It got to the point where I was walking around 15-to-20 pounds overweight. In the NFL, every pound that you are overweight, that's a $500 fine.
"So I got into food sensitivity testing, I got into blood testing. I started to understand what my body was allergic to and started building my routine and diet around that. Now, I'm a little different, I like to eat the same things over and over again. How do I mitigate certain inflammation and certain disease and sickness? A lot of that has to do with what we put into our body. That was my approach to food."
Were you able to go to the coaches and team physicians for advice?
Marshall: "For the most part every team has those experts, but it's about actually asking for help. It's not mandatory that every professional and college athlete follows a nutritional plan. I was always the guy that wanted more out of my body and more out of my mind. When things started changing, I started asking questions. That's when I started seeing the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
"Before it was, if I worked out and if I ate right it was because it was my job. The more questions I asked, I learned sickness and disease were running through this world just because we weren't eating right. That's when it became a lifestyle for me. I decided even when I was done playing ball, I was going to take this seriously and I was going to continue to learn. I'm tired of walking around seeing people dying early and fighting heart disease, lung disease, sleep apnea, sleep apnea, certain types of cancers, Types 2 diabetes, and a loss of energy. This is where my passion really comes from."
It seems like your plan significantly reduces the chances of catching a disease like COVID-19 or others?
Marshall: "We're seeing the stronger we are and the healthier we are, the better chances we have of fighting this. We want to optimize our health and there's ways of doing that. Cardiovascular health is extremely important during this time. That's everything, that's how we eat and how we sleep. You know how many people are actually sick and hurting because they are not getting enough sleep?
"Mental fitness. How many people are struggling from everything that's going on in the world? A more accurate and faster brain, a stronger mind goes a long way. So many people look at this industry and see the opportunity where there's so many people buying supplements and there are so many entrepreneurs putting themselves first.
"Now we really have to take this time and learn an implement things into our daily practices. We have to just be better, live longer, and just be stronger mentally and physically."
It's been a year since you been out of football. Based on the way you eat, the way you train, do you believe you can still go out there and ball?
Marshall: "Oh I may go back! There's a couple teams calling now and wanting me to play tight end. I feel amazing. I feel better now than I did the last four years of my career. You never know, I may go back. There may be a return.
I'd love to see you at tight end. I think you would be great for the game. Tight end isn't the same position it was when you were a rookie.
Marshall: "(Laughing) Oh you see it all the time, look at Larry Fitzgerald. He did a lovely job of making that transition from playing outside and dominating outside to dominating inside."
If you were to return, and you said teams are calling, what are you looking for in those teams?
Marshall: "Right now I'm focused on 'House of Athlete.' I'm not really entertaining those calls. I'm super passionate about the next phase of my career and the next phase of my life. Health and wellness has been at the forefront of everything I have done over the past 10 years. To be able to give this my undivided attention, it means a lot to me.
"I'm flattered and I'm honored, but I'm doubling down on helping people especially during this time. This is the time for our coaches, our trainers, our doctors, and our entrepreneurs to really double down on their vision because people need help. People need access to real information -- good information -- and we're just happy to be a part of a solution for people right now dealing with a lot of problems."
I saw you start "First Things First" this week. Guess you like talking about football as much as playing it!
Marshall:"This has been in the works for six, seven months now. I had the opportunity to audition back in December and things went well. I'm just excited for the opportunity to grow, learn, develop and be pushed and challenged in this new venture. I'm just excited to be part of the Fox family. It fits my personality exactly. It's exactly where I want to be."
Since you're in TV now, who do you got winning the Super Bowl?