LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall understands he's going to turn heads when he speaks out, given his well-publicized struggles with mental illness.
He also wanted to make a few things clear. His illness is behind him. It's important to express himself — and he wants the ball.
Marshall wasn't backing down on Tuesday after venting a bit about a lack of catches in Sunday's loss to New Orleans. He says he's "not a politician" and that he's "paid to make plays."
The Bears are coming off back-to-back losses after a 3-0 start, with the winless New York Giants coming to Soldier Field on Thursday night, and Marshall wants to be more involved after being neutralized by the Saints.
Facing constant double teams, he was targeted just five times and wound up with 30 yards and a touchdown on four catches. He made it clear afterward he wasn't happy, saying he needed to do a better job and that the Bears needed to adjust. He also insisted his frustration was fueled more by the result than his statistics, but he realizes anytime he vents, eyebrows will be raised given his history.
Marshall is open about his struggles with borderline personality disorder and the problems on and off the field the condition has caused him in the past.
"I think that's fair," he said during about a news conference that lasted about 25 minutes. "When you look at it, it's an emotional disorder. When you look at things I've been through in the past. One of the things you have to do, and this is not just talking about me, you have to validate people. They're not paying me 10 million bucks just to not make a play. There's validity behind that. Now it's what you do in that frustration, what do you do when you're angry. Those are the things. Do you blow up? Are you a distraction in the locker room? Are you a cancer, or do you communicate the right way?"
He acknowledged he has room to improve in that area. He also insisted he's "past" his disorder, that the treatment he went through "kind of defused a bomb because I had all this stuff bottled up."
That doesn't mean he won't sound off. It's just not in his makeup.
When he tried to bottle up his emotions in the past, he said that didn't work.
So instead, he's more of an open book with a big platform, whether he's talking about the game itself or his work through his foundation to raise mental health awareness.
He announced that he'll be wearing lime-colored shoes during Thursday's game in honor of mental health awareness week and that he expects to be fined $5,000 by the league. He in turn plans to donate $5,000, plus money raised through an auction for those shoes, which he will autograph, to a charity that helps women fighting breast cancer cope with the mental anguish.
"I know there's going to be cameras on me, it just makes my platform that much bigger," he said. "I really embrace it. I truly believe that football is my platform not my purpose."
That means he's going to keep talking, whether the subject is mental health or football touches.
Marshall still leads the Bears with 31 catches, but he's not carrying the load the way he did a year ago, when he set franchise records for catches (118) and yards receiving (1,508). His production has also slipped in recent weeks, from 15 catches for 217 yards over the first two games to 16 receptions for 161 yards over the past three.
On the other hand, while Marshall was being blanketed by the Saints, Alshon Jeffery was going off for a club record 218 yards.
Marshall insisted he was happy for Jeffery and that he worked with him in Florida during the offseason, hoping the payoff would be games like that. He realizes an effective Jeffery could lure defenders and ease the load on him.
He understands that with more options, Jay Cutler might not feel a need to force as many passes to him in double coverage. Yet, he also wants the ball. But if Marshall's in double or triple coverage, doesn't it make sense to look for other receivers?
"Ummmm," Marshall said, smiling and laughing. "I mean, yeah, that's obvious but there's so much more that comes into it, like schemes and different things we can do. Of course it makes sense that you can't throw the ball in double coverage. Wow, that was a cool question. Yeah, I mean it makes sense."
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