Brandon Marshall refuses to take columnist ‘Inside the NFL’
BY RICK MORRISSEY Sports Columnist August 14, 2014 10:24PM
Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) stands on the sidelines before an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Updated: August 15, 2014 6:30PM
And to think, it started out so well.
I was asking Brandon Marshall about his new role as an analyst on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL,’’ about how he would handle the logistics of being a player and getting to the show’s New York studio every Tuesday during the regular season. He said he would fly in a chartered plane on his day off.
I asked him about how he would approach any discussion about the football team that employs him full-time, the Chicago Bears. He mentioned his work with NBC 5 the last two seasons.
“You look at our win-loss record the last two years I’ve been here, so I’ve been put in some tough situations, like doing the show last year after we lost to the Green Bay Packers,’’ he said. “You’ve just got to be transparent and continue to give the audience what they want without crossing those boundaries of hurting the team.’’
Well, this certainly was going swimmingly, I thought. Then I asked him about whether the team was happy with his decision to have a side job.
“You need to be very careful how you write this story and talk to me because this could be the last time you talk to me,’’ he said.
Um, OK …
“End of story,’’ he said.
“I’m just asking …’’
“End of story,’’ he said.
I can see it’s going to be hell writing the authorized Brandon Marshall book now.
Look, I’m sure heaven is rejoicing that the world has another media member. And for those of us with notebooks and microphones, the more the eminently quotable Marshall opens his mouth, the better.
But it’s hard to see how this is good for anyone not named “Brandon Marshall,’’ “Brandon Marshall’s bank account’’ or “Brandon Marshall’s post-football career.’’
The cable network announced that the star wide receiver would join host Greg Gumbel, unsigned safety Ed Reed, and retired quarterbacks Boomer Esiason and Phil Simms for the Tuesday night show.
The Bears are so demanding of their players that this has to be an issue within the organization. There will be people at Halas Hall who won’t like the idea of the team’s top receiver yapping on his day off rather than resting, studying and thinking of more ways to make Cutler happy.
Remember, this is a franchise that protects information like dark family secrets and views leaks as if they are the work of the devil. And this is a TV show that wants its analysts to be honest and provocative.
What if there’s a controversy involving the Bears on the day “Inside the NFL” runs? Will Marshall share his real thoughts with a national audience? What if those thoughts don’t conform to the Bears’ spin on the matter? How will that go over at Halas Hall and will it have an effect in the locker room?
The Bears didn’t like it when a defiant Martellus Bennett dared the team to fine him for getting into a training camp scuffle with rookie defensive back Kyle Fuller. The Bears not only fined him, they suspended him. They seemed more upset by the quotes than the fight itself.
What if Marshall is not getting the football as much as he wants? Will that come up on the show? What if oft-criticized safety Chris Conte blows a play and costs the Bears a game that has playoff implications? How does Marshall handle it?
If he makes excuses for his teammate on air, how is that good TV for the viewing audience?
All sorts of possible issues here.
Tuesdays are usually a day off for NFL players. Teams can’t dictate how those players spend their down time. Although it’s possible other players use their off days to fly to different cities, I can’t recall Jerry Rice jetting somewhere every Tuesday.
Maybe the Bears have turned a new leaf and will be pushing to be the star of next season’s “Hard Knocks’’ on HBO, but I doubt it.
“I trust Brandon,’’ coach Marc Trestman said after the Bears’ 20-19 preseason victory against the Jaguars. “He asked me about it. I trust him to make a decision that was in the best interest of the team first. I know Brandon. I know he’ll do that. I have complete faith that the team has always come first, football has always come first to him. I believe he’ll work it out to where it won’t distract him from doing his job.’’
Being an NFL wide receiver comes with its own workload and stresses. Studying for a TV show, flying back and forth to New York — it sounds like another layer of work and stress that isn’t good for anybody. Or most anybody.