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Once-risky Brandon Marshall rewarded by Bears

Bears wide receiver BrandMarshall signs his $30 millicontract extensiset “The View” between host Jenny McCarthy (left) his wife Michi. |

Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall signs his $30 million contract extension on the set of “The View” between host Jenny McCarthy (left) and his wife, Michi. | ABC

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Updated: June 23, 2014 2:25PM



It cost the Bears only two third-round picks two years ago, but the acquisition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall still was considered a risky move.

Marshall was viewed as a bad apple with a bad track record. The Miami Dolphins didn’t want him around anymore, and the Denver Broncos already had parted ways with him. His top-tier skills be damned.

But Marshall has been a godsend. His three-year, $30 million contract extension ($23 million guaranteed) is a reward for being one of the league’s best receivers as well as a valuable team leader.

More significant, the contract extension Marshall, 30, signed Monday on “The View” symbolizes how perceptions have changed.

Sure, his news conferences at Halas Hall can be interesting — they border on spectacles — whether it’s bringing a Charlie Brown-like Christmas tree to the lectern, handing out green ties as part of his mental-health awareness efforts or challenging reporters to name defensive coverages.

Heck, Marshall even announced the extension in his own inimitable way, sitting between Jenny McCarthy and his wife, Michi, on the set of “The View.”

But, by all accounts, Marshall has changed from his days in Miami and Denver. He’ll always have critics and skeptics, but the bad apple has turned out to be fruitful for the Bears.

Marshall is an emotional player, and that will never change. But he has kept his emotions in check in Chicago. The Bears come first for Marshall. Look no further than Alshon Jeffery’s emergence in 2013. It came after an offseason of mentoring by Marshall.

This offseason, more teammates — including quarterback Jay Cutler, running back Matt Forte, cornerback Tim Jennings, second-year receiver Marquess Wilson and several offensive linemen — headed to Florida to train with Marshall, who opened his house to all of them.

And then there are Marshall’s relentless efforts to raise awareness of mental-health issues, which undeniably resonate with the McCaskey family and general manager Phil Emery. He’s a star player-turned-team spokesman they’re proud to have in their organization.

His endeavors have led to classes at Harvard and audiences that have included members of the Kennedy family. Marshall, who announced at a 2011 news conference that he suffers from borderline personality disorder, even pledged $1 million from his extension to the mental-health community.

It was only a matter of time before Marshall, who was entering the last year of a contract that was set to pay him $9.3 million, received an extension. Cutler and Jennings needed new deals, free agents had to be pursued and signed, and the draft had to play out first.

“Love Brandon, and I’m glad he’s a Bear,” Emery said this offseason. “He’s certainly shown us over time that he’s just continuing to get better as a football player, and he’s continuing to get better as a [person].

‘‘He’s showing true leadership. He’s pulling people together, getting them to work together during the season and in the offseason.”

Marshall has been one of the NFL’s best receivers the last two seasons. In that time, he ranks second in receptions (218), fourth in receiving yards (2,803) and fifth in touchdown catches (23). But one big hole remains in Marshall’s résumé: He has never reached the postseason in his eight-year career.

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns



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