Marshall isn’t a problem until he’s actually a problem

October 9th, 2013 - 10:05 am

The Chicago sports media, ever eager to stir up controversies for the benefit of their own columns and inflated egos, is loving Brandon Marshall speaking his mind.

Across the board, nearly every news outlet centered on delivering you Bears news has some kind of opinion piece on how Marshall is being selfish and focused too much on his own production, rather than the good of the team.

While I admit that it is a little odd that when the media asks Marshall questions about games or about a teammate’s performance, he sometimes turns them into a soliloquy about his own lack of inclusion in the offense, I’m not ready to sound the trumpet, raise the red flag or go to DEFCON 1.

Brandon Marshall is a wide receiver. Brandon Marshall is a diva. Brandon Marshall is selfish because Brandon Marshall wants the ball every play and won’t be happy when it isn’t given to Brandon Marshall. This is who Brandon Marshall is, was, and always will be.

I used the receiver’s full name — repetitively — for a reason. Wide receivers are the most flamboyant, outspoken, and oftentimes selfish players in all of pro sports. We wouldn’t know that around these parts because the Bears haven’t had a top notch receiver in — well, almost ever. Perhaps one of the most notable wide receiver “divas” in recent memory was former Jets receiver Keyshawn Johnson, whose autobiography was titled, Just Give Me the Damn Ball.

Really? As Johnson, a current NFL analyst on ESPN, now says: C’mon, man.

I want a player who wants the ball. That kind of player is a winner. That kind of player knows he can help his team win. And if that player is not receiving the ball enough, it’s discouraging for him because he knows he can help.

It’s like the old saying goes: a winner wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line. That’s as true for a receiver as any position in sports.

Remember all that clamoring from fans for a “No. 1 receiver” throughout the years of Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Rashied Davis, Dane Sanzenbacher, Bernard Berrian, Justin Gage, Bobby Wade, Mark Bradley (and so on…)? The wide receiver carousel was almost as bad as the quarterback one around these parts.

Well, here he is. A bona fide No. 1 receiver. A multiple Pro Bowl player. A freakish size-speed guy with all the intangibles. For better or worse.

Now, Marshall is a little different in that he carries the burden of a diagnosed personality disorder with him. But the same “selfishness” and dissatisfaction with not getting the ball is prevalent in the majority of the league’s receivers.

But where in Marshall’s “me, me, me” comments is there bad? Is he being disruptive in the locker room? Is he causing a rift among his teammates? Is he — as one reporter asked head coach Marc Trestman — a distraction?

The answer has been an emphatic “no.” Both Trestman — his head coach — and Cutler — his quarterback-slash-good friend — the two most important people on the team, have stood up for Marshall and have shot down what is a non-story.

Marshall has had his fair share of drops and he may have indicted himself by saying his frustration has led to some of those drops. But no one drop has caused the Bears to lose. I’d argue Earl Bennett’s fourth-down drop against the Saints hurt the Bears more than any Marshall let slip through his grasp.

Has Marshall had a checkered past? Of course. We all know that. We all know of his off-field indiscretions as well as his immature behavior in Denver and disrupting practice. But none of that — neither off-field nor on-field — has happened here in Chicago.

So, until Marshall starts causing problems for his team and until the Bears lose games because of his performance on the field, I’ve got no complaints with him and it’s not worth picking the nits of his comments to the media.

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