When the Bears acquired Brandon Marshall controversy swirled around the choice of the wide receiver, and people wondered whether that move was a smart one. At the time, Marshall was accused of punching a woman outside a New York nightclub in March. And while he will not be charged in the incident, Bears fans have a right to be worried.
Marshall has a long history of legal troubles, the extent of which is made clear by this troublesomely lengthy timeline from ESPN.com. The Bears claimed they were aware of Marshall’s pending legal woes, and stood by their decision. But Bears fans remain wary. The last thing fans want to see is their potential star wide receiver getting into more skirmishes off the field than on.
However, many fans may not know that last year, Marshall revealed a personal struggle with borderline personality disorder. BPD “is a condition in which people have long-term patterns of unstable or turbulent emotions,” which “often cause them to take impulsive actions and have chaotic relationships.”
In an ESPN.com article at the time, Marshall said, “For so long, I’ve been just trying to get help. I’ve been seeking help…I’ve been talking with doctors since I’ve been in the NFL. No one has ever helped me.”
Marshall also said that he was making himself vulnerable in order to bring awareness to his condition, and to help others who also suffer from BPD. Most recently, he wrote a piece for the Chicago Sun-Times in the wake of Junior Seau’s death. Marshall used that platform to make a case for greater acceptance and better resources for those who suffer from mental health disorders, especially in the NFL. He made a great point that even from a young age, boys in particular are taught not to show emotion or weakness, and those outdated teachings become a catalyst for mental instability later in life.
The transition to life after football is on the forefront of the concussion and suicide issues surrounding the NFL. Marshall says that treatment and therapy should be encouraged, as it has made a difference in his life, and I couldn’t agree more.
Normally, I wouldn’t have much sympathy for a guy who seems to have made the same mistakes over and over again. But it takes a lot of courage to come out and make oneself vulnerable amidst scrutiny and criticism, as was Marshall’s intention. Over the years, the media and public placed label after label on Marshall, and finally he took steps to try to erase that persona by taking on what many people consider a stigma, but spinning it in a positive direction. He acknowledges his problem, but wants to focus on saving lives through recognition of mental health disorders.
The Brandon Marshall trade could be the most significant move the Bears made this offseason, more so for what he can potentially do off the field. If Marshall really has learned from his mistakes, he could be a dominant presence in the locker room and a great spokesman for the Bears organization regarding mental health issues in the NFL.
In essence, Marshall has a great opportunity to turn his life around with a new beginning in Chicago. He can be a living example and role model for his teammates, and he would be smart to continue working toward his goal of raising awareness. Marshall has the potential to make a huge impact on a legendary organization, a chance many athletes never receive. And most of all, he can clean the cobwebs off his image, and as he predicted on ESPN’s First Take, create a new one by leading the Bears to the Super Bowl.
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