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Brandon Marshall is Sun-Times Sportsperson of Year

NASHVILLE TN - NOVEMBER 04:  BrandMarshall #15 Chicago Bears catches pass front JasMcCourty #30 Tennessee Titans LP Field November

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 04: Brandon Marshall #15 of the Chicago Bears catches a pass in front of Jason McCourty #30 of the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on November 4, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

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Updated: January 29, 2013 6:30AM

Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane and Bulls center Joakim Noah compare favorite late-night hot spots. It’s comical how Noah towers over Kane at the banquet table.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and Hawks captain Jonathan Toews are swapping concussion experiences. Wide-eyed Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o soaks up advice from Bears linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, while Bulls star Derrick Rose introduces himself to White Sox left-hander Chris Sale.

Everybody laughs when Bears cornerback Charles Tillman punches a basket of dinner rolls from the hands of a passing waiter.

The sound of a knife gently striking crystal quiets the room. Everybody raises a glass to toast the guest of honor, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall, the Sun-Times Sportsperson of the Year
for 2012.

By standing tall even when his team collapsed, Marshall wasn’t just the Bears’ only consistent offensive perfor-
mer, but he achieved what no other player in their long and storied history had. His 113 receptions, 1,466 receiving yards and seven 100-yard
receiving games are single-season franchise records heading into the Bears’ regular-season finale Sunday against the Detroit Lions.

As impressive as those accomplishments might be, they would be even more so had the Bears employed more than a handful of competent receivers during the last 92 seasons. But, alas, these are the Bears.

Still, it wasn’t as though Marshall was without any competition:

† Rose would deserve a spot at the head table in any year but the one that was plagued by injuries and
ended with knee surgery.

† Anthony Davis left little-known Perspectives-MSA for Kentucky and was named national player of the year before being selected No. 1 overall in the NBA draft by the New Orleans Hornets.

† Sox sluggers Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn became the only teammates in baseball history to reach 400 career home runs in the same season.

† Te’o finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting
and lifted Notre Dame back atop the college football world.

† Tillman’s four forced fumbles against the Tennessee Titans will stand as a
statistical oddity for the ages. His 39 forced fumbles in his career is mind-blowing for a cornerback.

† Right-hander Philip Humber became the third pitcher in Sox history to throw a perfect game.

† Late Cubs third baseman-turned-broadcaster Ron Santo finally was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

But Marshall might be the Bears’ best offensive player since the late Walter Payton. He has been everything they could have hoped for when they traded two third-round draft choices to the Miami Dolphins to get him in March.

Marshall has accomplished this despite opponents double- and triple-teaming him. He has more receiving yards than the next four Bears receivers combined. He has 11 of the team’s 20 touchdown catches.

Marshall landed in Chicago with baggage. Concerns about him becoming a distraction have been silenced by his performance on the field, his determination to raise awareness for borderline personality disorder since being diagnosed with the condition and his emergence as a team leader and the voice, if not the face, of the franchise.

The only thing Marshall hasn’t been able to do is
reverse the decades-long trend of unimaginative and unproductive Bears offenses, which is no easy task, considering the weight of history behind it.

That’s exactly what Bulls forward Luol Deng and Cubs outfielder Alfonso
Soriano are discussing at the bar. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo is soaking up advice from Sox outfielder Alex Rios. At the kids’ table, Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert and Simeon star Jabari Parker are eyeing the dessert cart.

Toews and Kane are making late-night plans. Why not? With the NHL lockout dragging on, what do they have get up for?

Marshall politely declines an invitation. He has a game dripping with playoff implications coming up Sunday. He tucks his Sportsperson of the Year award under his arm and disappears out a side door.

The Bears’ best offensive player since ‘‘Sweetness’’ has left the building.

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