Why Brandon Marshall’s mind might be a matter for Bears
RICK TELANDER email@example.com March 13, 2012 9:40PM
New York Jets v Miami Dolphins
Updated: April 15, 2012 8:16AM
That wasn’t so hard, was it?
Go out and trade for a three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, reunite him with his favorite desperate-for-a-wide-receiver quarterback and give him his old wide receivers coach to boot?
That’s what the Bears did Tuesday afternoon when they picked up Brandon Marshall from the Miami Dolphins for two future third-round picks. Marshall’s old Denver Broncos quarterback, Jay Cutler, was already in the house. So is his old receivers coach, Jeremy Bates, now the Bears’ quarterbacks coach.
It seems like such a no-brainer deal for the Bears that you wonder why it didn’t happen sooner. Guess we pin the genius medal on new general manager Phil Emery.
After all, the Bears have only wanted a No. 1 wide receiver since about 1970, when Dick Gordon scared defensive backs half to death.
So this is great. Marshall once caught 21 passes in a single game. The offensive air attack is ready to light up the sky. The Bears rule!
Hmm. Why would the Dolphins unload a player of such immense talent — the 28-year-old Marshall is a 6-4, 230-pound bundle of fast-twitch fibers and agility — for so little? Marshall made the Pro Bowl last season, and, boom, he’s gone two months later?
The Dolphins are angling for free-agent quarterback Peyton Manning, and that superstar leader certainly would want Marshall on his team. Wouldn’t he?
Marshall is now a Bear, with all kinds of comfort zones attached. He loved playing with Cutler back in the day. In his first two years as an NFL starter, 2007 and 2008, when Cutler was throwing to him, Marshall caught 206 passes for 2,590 yards and 13 touchdowns and went to two Pro Bowls.
So what could possibly be of concern here?
Perhaps — and we’re thinking inside the box — it has to do with personality issues.
Elite wide receivers, as we know, include the fanciest peacocks on the pea farm. Calling a wide receiver a narcissistic, preening, self-centered, randomly delusional human is almost a redundancy, like calling a whale wide.
There’s a reason Michael Irvin, Terrell Owens, Chad ‘‘Ochocinco’’ Johnson and Randy Moss are or were wide receivers. Teams will put up with a lot from the finest ballet dancers on the field, but they also know their artistry comes at a price.
Marshall has issues that have manifested themselves in ways that sometimes have negated the importance of his catches.
He pouted and was publicly angry when he wanted a better contract or to be traded by the Broncos. He feuded with a Dolphins quarterback. He told the press he had planned to get kicked out of a Monday night game before halftime.
Last summer, he announced at a news conference that he had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a difficult emotional condition that can cause reckless behavior.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the disorder ‘‘is a condition in which people have long-term patterns of unstable or turbulent emotions, such as feelings about themselves and others. These inner experiences often cause them to take impulsive actions and have chaotic relationships.’’
Nobody knows the exact cause of the disorder, which affects 2 percent of the population, but genetics, childhood abuse, poor family communication, abandonment and even sexual abuse are believed to be causes.
People with borderline personality are uncertain of their identity and tend to have inappropriate outbursts of anger; they may love a person one day and hate them the next.
Medication and group therapy can help, and Marshall is to be commended for coming out with his problem.
As one website on the condition states, ‘‘There is no famous spokesperson for BPD as there is for other disorders.’’
Perhaps that site is unaware of Marshall. Or unconcerned.
He has been suspended by the NFL for off-field actions, and he was benched in Denver for not complying with team rules. Marshall has had a number of injuries, including hip surgery.
OK, so none of this should matter now that this supreme athlete is reunited with the man he feels so close to, Cutler.
As Marshall said this winter, ‘‘Cutler, man, he’s an amazing guy. He’s probably got one of the biggest hearts. I played with [him] at a time when I was very young and immature, and his guidance and leadership helped me not fall off the deep end. So Cutler is a very special person to me.’’
Interesting that both men were traded when young and after going to Pro Bowls. Cutler has never been seen as warm and fuzzy. And a problem for Marshall could be the idealization of someone who he soon may realize has his own issues.
Borderline sufferers can ‘‘quickly swing from idealizing a loved one to hating them over a perceived slight,’’ according to official data. Zelda Fitzgerald, Princess Diana and Adolf Hitler all were believed to have borderline personality disorder.
Mental disorders are not chains that lock us into place. But they must be dealt with like any injury, any wound, any burden.
Here’s hoping Marshall stays healthy.