Brandon Marshall’s Platform Needs to be His Purpose


Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Marshall often describes football as his platform, not his purpose.  The message makes sense in the context that we are not defined by our jobs.  For Marshall, he chooses to use his status as a star NFL wide receiver to bring awareness to an issue – a purpose if you will – very personal to him, mental health.  We all should have such noble intentions to serve a higher purpose.

Brandon Marshall was diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder and announced his diagnosis during a July 31, 2011 press conference.  It was a career and probably life changing diagnosis from Marshall, who had a myriad of legal troubles before seeking professional help.  Since the diagnosis, Marshall has left his checkered past largely in the rear view mirror, but the spotlight – and often controversy  – still follow the mercurial wide receiver.

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Marshall has been a model citizen during his entire tenure with the Chicago Bears and success in the stats sheet has followed, with 31 touchdowns and over 3500 yards over three seasons.  It’s hard to argue the production between the white lines.  But the results have not followed his big numbers.  The Bears have missed the playoffs in all three of Marshall’s seasons, but that’s nothing new to Marshall.  He has yet to see the postseason in his 9-year career.

It hasn’t been from a lack of trying.  Last offseason, Marshall has the ring leader and focal point of the Bears offseason workout.  He had a bunch of Bears down to his facility and home in South Florida and the #SouthBears hashtag excited and delighted Bears fans, thinking that the team bonding off the field would translate to success on it.  It didn’t.

Last season, Marshall’s production on the field definitely dipped, clearly the result of an ankle injury that dogged Marshall since Week 1.  He had his worst year since his rookie campaign in 2006 and not coincidentally, controversy followed.  The frustration bubbled over in a post-game tirade following a gut-wrenching home loss to Marshall’s former team, the Miami Dolphins in Week 7.  Marshall was heard going after kicker Robbie Gould, who stood up to Marshall.

Marshall raised a few more eyebrows when he seemingly threw his buddy Jay Cutler under the bus, saying that he’d have buyer’s remorse on the Cutler deal after a season where the two former Broncos buddies didn’t seem to be on the same page.

Some critics may point to Marshall’s weekly trips to New York to film Showtime’s Inside the NFL as a source of distraction.  It’s been a big topic this offseason since the permissive Marc Trestman has been shown the door and John Fox is at the helm.  The new Bears brass don’t seem to be in favor of Marshall’s side job:

"“Regardless of who it is, I think their focus and energy needs to remain on what’s going to help us win a championship.”"

Whether or not Brandon Marshall is a member of the 2015 Chicago Bears is still a big question.  Whether they state it or not, the Bears are in a rebuilding mode.  Will Marshall be around when the Bears expect to contend again?  He’s on the wrong side of 30 and coming off an injury-plagued season following a couple of offseason hip surgeries.  And that’s not to mention the perceived distractions in the locker room.  With a high price tag and a lot of other needs to fill, could it mean the end of Marshall’s tenure in Chicago as Pace rebuilds the Bears roster?

Here’s my unsolicited advice to Brandon Marshall.  At this point in your career, your platform needs to be your purpose.  It’s great to have a higher cause, but the message gets diminished when you’re the center of controversy.  Let your actions and success on the field translate to your message off of it.  The message will be much more powerful from a solid platform.  If you’re on a shaky platform, your purpose gets diminished.  Be professional.  Be productive.  The platform and the purpose will be better off regardless of where you play in 2015.