New Seahawks WR Brandon Marshall on why he’s here
At age 34, embarking on his 13th season following surgeries on his toe and his ankle, Brandon Marshall has resurfaced in the NFL's far, upper-left corner.
And he has a message for the rest of the league.
I'm not done.
The veteran wide receiver stood over just about every one of the other 11 Seahawks wide receivers on the field Wednesday during his first practice for Seattle. Stood over them in stature—his new team lists him at 6-feet-5, fulfilling the big receiver coach Pete Carroll always covets—and in status. Marshall is a six-time Pro Bowl selection with six 100-catch seasons.
So why is Marshall a Seahawk, after being a Bronco, Dolphin, Bear, Jet and, for one, injury-shortened season last year, Giant?
“Well, I didn’t have a ton of options," he said, in deadpan tone.
"I think the sentiment around the league is that I’m done."
That feeling came after the New York Giants waived him with a failed-physical designation last month. So another player Carroll has cultivated onto his Seahawks carrying on chip on his shoulder?
"Absolutely," Marshall said. "That's fair to say."
Why did the Seahawks take a low-risk, short-term chance (a one-year deal, worth a little more than the veteran minimum with a chance with incentives to reach $2 million) on Marshall?
"This kind of falls in line with, either you’re competing or you’re not," Carroll said.
"We’re just looking to try to get a little bit better. He has been a terrific player in his past, and we just want to give him a shot here to compete, so that’s what he’s going to get the opportunity to do. He has been a really good competitor and he has been a play maker and a lot of stuff."
Carroll isn't giving any guarantees Marshall will be a co-top target with Doug Baldwin for quarterback Russell Wilson in 2018. Or that he's sure to even make the roster. Something about having to compete.
"We’ve got to get him on our field with our guys and see how it goes," Carroll said.
Not forever ago, when Marshall was starring with Denver or making record-setting bucks under bright lights in Miami then Chicago, he likely would have exploded at anyone doubting him. Headline-making type of exploding.
But Marshall has since gone through mental-health treatment. He's been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. He's given—as he did again on Wednesday—very public expressions of the need to break through our society's stigma about mental-health issues.
So now, with the rest of the league believing he's got nothing left, with the Giants having given up on him last month by waiving him with a failed-physical designation, this new Marshall says "I get it."
"When you get on the other side of 30 and your production slips and you have a big injury, people just count you out," he said. "So it was an interesting process. It was a humbling process, to say the least. There were some really tough days that I had to push through, mentally and physically.
"So for this to be the opportunity to come to, you can’t ask for a better situation. You’ve got probably a top-three quarterback (Russell Wilson). You’ve got one of the best franchises. You’ve got a young nucleus, guys who are hungry and ready to compete. That’s rare nowadays.
"You’ve got guys who come into the league with a sense of entitlement, come into the league looking for the fame first instead of putting in the work. So it’s good to see this organization from afar how they do things, and now being here seeing these young guys just on point. Sitting in the meetings today, my first day in meetings, everybody was focused, it was all about football. And that’s rare nowadays. So I’m excited to get out there and do my part.
"It's an honor to be here, and play with some champions, and get an opportunity to do things the right way."
On the field Wednesday, Marshall stood—towered, almost—over every one of the Seahawks' other wide receivers except for 6-foot-6 Tanner McEvoy.
One day into Marshall's Seattle career, with him still being perhaps two months from being back to full health, he may have a better chance to make this team than McEvoy. McEvoy, a former undraffted college quarterback and safety, dropped passes while the last of six wide receivers on last year's Seahawks.
Marshall said he had a bad toe that needed surgery since during his last standout season, 2015 with the Jets. That was his last 100-catch year, with a league-leading 14 touchdowns. He figured the recovery from the toe surgery would wipe out any offseasons, so he'd wait to have it until he was retired. When he went on injured reserve in October ending his season with the Giants because of the severe deltoid-ligament injury in his ankle, he decided to also do the toe procedure, to use the extra three months of downtime to recover.
He said he wasn't fully able to run pain free again until after the Giants waived him, and two weeks before the Seahawks tried him out earlier this month. Marshall estimates he won't be fully healthy again until late July. He said his goal is to be "in midseason form" for the start of Seattle's training camp July 26.
"I feel good," he said. "I don't feel great."
With that in mind, Marshall didn't do extensive running in his first practice with the Seahawks. He jogged short routes and caught passes from Wilson. He skipped longer routes and all of the no-pads scrimmaging.
Carroll, general manager John Schneider tried soon after they arrived to run the Seahawks in 2010 to sign Marshall, then an emerging star with Denver. Carroll and Schneider had a seaplane fly Marshall to Seahawks headquarters, complete with a splashy landing on Lake Washington at the docks behind the team headquarters for the then-restricted free agent. That plane also flew over CenturyLink Field almost a decade ago with Seattle's home stadium displaying Marshall on its big-screen scoreboards. It was a college-like recruiting pitch Carroll had been so used to doing coming out of USC.
And it failed. The Broncos retained Marshall long enough to trade him that spring to the Dolphins. He signed a four-year, $47.5 million contract with the Dolphins, at the time the richest for wide receiver in league history.
He was miserable in Miami while going from 101 catches with 10 touchdowns in 2009 with Denver to just three touchdowns in his Dolphins debut season. After six TDs in 2011, he signed with Chicago. He said he grew up with the Bears, for whom he played 2012-14 before signing as a free-agent with the Jets.
He implied Wednesday all the while the Seahawks kept tabs on possibly acquiring him.
"I had a few opportunities, when I left Chicago, left the Jets. And things just didn't work out," he said. "It wasn't a great fit then. So I was a little shocked that we were able to get something done.
"There's some things I've already been challenged on (in Seattle). You would think that going into your 13th year you have pretty much peaked and you are tapped out. But there are some areas things that Coach Nate (Carroll, the head coach's son) has already pointed out where I can get better at. I'm excited about that. Catching the ball and being more consistent there. Route running, and competing every, single play.
"I'm excited to get out there and get better. So it's a blessing to be here."
The veteran of 172 regular-season games counts as even more of a blessing his rebound from being diagnosed in 2011 with borderline personality disorder. He detailed that last year in a story for The Players' Tribune entitled "The Stigma."
In 2016, ESPN reported Marshall and Sheldon Richardson, then two of the Jets' biggest stars, had a loud "verbal altercation" in New York's locker room following a game.
"When you talk about my past, and you see it from from afar, you say, 'Man, that's a troubled guy. What's going on?' Sometimes when you approach things with curiosity you can see there's something else there, you go a little deeper and find, 'Wow, that guy needs help,'" Marshall said.
"I was so in awe when I was at McLean Hospital (in Belmont, Mass., for therapy). I had three months in the outpatient program there. I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I was diagnosed with (needing) DPT, dialectical behavioral therapy."
DPT is a cognitive behavioral treatment emphasizing mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness developed by University of Washington PhD Marsha Linehan, "the great Marsha Linehan that's out here in Seattle," Marshall said.
"I was in cognitive behavioral therapy. I was in mentalization. I was in self-assessment," Marshall said. "I had a neurological assessment to look at brain, to see if I was capable of change. I did a clinical evaluation, to see what was going on in my life. ...
"Within a month and a half, things I was struggling with for years I felt 100 times better. I couldn't believe there was treatments out there and there were doctors out there that could make that big of a difference that quickly."
This chance to extend his NFL career with the Seahawks in 2018, to give Seattle the big, hugely accomplished receiver Carroll always wants, isn't all that important following that.