Who Is Brandon Marshall?

Brandon Marshall is already the best Chicago Bears wide receiver of all time and he hasn’t even played a game yet.

Take a  look at the numbers – Five consecutive 1,000 yard seasons.  Three Pro Bowl appearances.  The most receptions ever in a single game (21).  The Bears have never had a talent like Marshall catching passes for their franchise.

Yet it seems as if all anyone is really interested in is discussing his past.

That’s what happens when your history includes multiple arrests due to domestic related issues.  It would be easy to label Marshall a head case who’s not worthy of an NFL contract.  But doing that would ignore the possible causes from an earlier life that have lead to his repeated issues during adulthood.  Stories such as this one, documented in a police report:

 On Nov. 17, 1987, Marshall was riding in the back seat of a car with his younger sister, London, on Larimer Avenue, the main strip in their neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Up front, an argument between his parents escalated.

According to court records, Freddie Marshall punched his wife, Diane, in the eye. Freddie stopped the car in traffic, then got out and walked around to the passenger side and punched Diane in her other eye. She kicked at him, but Freddie grabbed her feet and pulled off her skirt. Diane hustled to the driver’s side and drove to a stop sign. Freddie caught up to her, got back in and hit her again, leaving bruises under her eyes.

In the back seat, the two children screamed and cried. Marshall was 3. His father would be ordered by the court to stay away from the family home for four months as part of an order of protection.

Jared S. Hopkins of the Chicago Tribune spent some time with the enigmatic wide out earlier this Spring and came away with a profile on a man who is eager to leave his past behind him, and plot a path toward a more peaceful future.

On the evening of April 22, 2011, a large, bloodied Cuisinart kitchen knife rested on the marble floor outside Marshall’s master suite, and a loaded handgun was on a small end table. Near the front doors was a large pool of blood that trailed off to the bedroom and kitchen. Blood also was splattered on the walls.

Marshall stood in his bedroom with a cut on his abdomen. Both of his wrists showed clean cuts, three or four on each arm. Michi Nogami-Marshall had a large bruise on her left cheek. Her pinky finger was cut.

That night — documented in police reports — led to Michi’s arrest and a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, which was later dismissed. It came 13 months after their wedding. Marshall’s wife told police she stabbed Marshall in self-defense.

According to Marshall and court records, he has seen therapists over the years. Last year, with the help of the NFL, Marshall entered McLean Hospital in Massachusetts. He was diagnosed [with Borderline Personality Disorder] and treated over three months. There are no medications solely for his illness, and he says he doesn’t take any for it.

Marshall has been a gracious host. He loaned me the keys to his car. His wife cooked for me. I lost count of how many times I used his Keurig coffee maker.

But when I have asked about his family’s past, he repeatedly has deflected those questions. I decide to try again.

I ask why he got married. ” ‘Cause I’m in love. And I found my wife.” When did you know marriage was the next step? He’s not comfortable answering.

What did your dad teach you about marriage? “This isn’t no Q-and-A.”

I sigh.

Hopkins could’ve been a bit more understanding of Marshall’s reluctance to discuss his personal life and past.  His battle with BPD is an ongoing process that won’t be fixed overnight or through interviews with reporters seeking a story.  It’s a reporters job to ask tough questions, but some amount of sensitivity is necessary when your subject who is someone who has experienced multiple traumatic events during his life and is actively working toward recovering from them.

Marshall comes across as someone who is very guarded, someone who is reluctant to speak ill of those he loves who may have made some bad decisions in life.  He seems more interested in illustrating to this reporter the man he has become, not the individual he has been made out to be through his numerous run ins with the law.  For Marshall, discussing his turbulent past is counterproductive in his process toward bettering himself.

Marshall has a lot of work ahead of him as he attempts to change his public perception.  A new start in Chicago should go a long way in helping him reach his goal.

Chicago Tribune: Understanding Brandon Marshall


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