Our own Sam Spiegelman did a nice write-up on the ramifications of the Brandon Marshall trade that sent him to the New York Jets. Spiegelman explained the salary cap and on-the-field effects for both the Chicago Bears and the Jets. Outside of the salary cap reasons there are other major reasons why Marshall had to go.
Since the hire of Ryan Pace as General Manager of the Bears, the new front office, along with head coach John Fox, have done a major restructuring. Gone are long-time Bears’ players Lance Briggs and Charles “Peanut” Tillman. While Tillman was a real pro during his tenure in Chicago, Briggs was more of a pain to deal with. This from CBS Chicago’s Tim Baffoe:
See, back in the preseason, coach Marc Trestman, citing Briggs’ accumulation of stock in respect and leadership, trusted Briggs enough to allow him to miss practice to open up a BBQ restaurant in California.
Of course, Briggs would later admit that he was sleeping during team meetings. There were also rumors that the 34 year-old Briggs would be spotted in the wee hours of the morning, a day or two before game day. The two may or may not be correlated (how else is he going to catch up on sleep when he’s partying all night long?), but it’s understandable.
But Briggs has known for a while that his time in Chicago was coming to an end and that was before the new front office regime took over this organization this winter. Pace is not necessarily in rebuild mode, but he’s definitely doing a serious restructuring of the club. Logically, this also included the removal of certain players that did not fit his idea of what a championship caliber team looks like for the team’s future.
So when it was time to evaluate Marshall’s place within the club, it was clear that they needed to get rid of him. As Spiegelman explained, the money was a big reason why it was imperative for the Bears to rid themselves of the unpredictable wide receiver. But it goes beyond the money when it comes to Marshall.
While guest-writing for Tru School Sports, I was able to chronicle part of the Bears’ season. The first week on assignment was the week that Marshall went on Twitter to offer a Lions’ fan $25,000 to fight him in a boxing ring. Of course, when Marshall was asked about the incident, he justified his behavior by saying that the fight would be for charity in an attempt to raise awareness against bullying.
Raise awareness against bullying … by bullying a fan on Twitter. Let that sink in for a bit. And of course, you can say that Marshall was sticking up for his mother. A very noble action on his part, but Curt Schilling (of all people) showed us alternative ways to deal with Twitter trolls this past week.
Marshall was the same character who held a press conference in mid-September, against the team’s wishes, to address the domestic violence issues that ran rampant throughout the league last season. For about an hour, Marshall went after his ex-girlfriend in a negative matter, using “blame the victim” logic to soil her name.
And who can forget Marshall’s outburst after a loss in the Bears’ locker room? The main recipient of his outburst? Kicker Robbie Gould. NFL.com writer, Marc Sessler wrote a summary of what happened after the Bears’ loss to the Miami Dolphins in mid-October:
“When you play with heart, it’s supposed to hurt!” the voice yelled, per Haugh. “You just kick the ball.”
Of course, when Marshall was asked about the incident, he told reporters to mind their own business:
“Were you in here? Were you in this locker room? That’s a team matter. This has nothing to do with you,” Marshall said.
Afterwards, on Inside the NFL, a show that Marshall was hosting every week this past season, he admitted that he was frustrated after the Dolphins’ game and was yelling at teammates in the locker room. He only wished for one thing and one thing only, per CBS Sports’ John Breech:
“My voice was heard,” Marshall said of his locker room tirade. “The only thing I regret is that the door wasn’t closed. I wouldn’t change any of my reactions.”
Which brings us to another problem with Marshall; he really loves to be in front of a camera. He even expressed interest to return to the weekly show for another season to his new bosses. This from CBS Chicago’s Dan Bernstein:
…sources said that Pace and John Fox were dismayed by Marshall’s very public insistence on continuing to fly to New York for his weekly television show…and disappointed that he chose to reveal information from a private meeting at a personal press conference only hours after it occurred. Perhaps most significant, however, were their conversations with teammates who found support for Marshall’s continued presence to be minimal, at best.
Per one source, “No player jumped forward to say, ‘We have to have this guy.’”
Bernstein continued to explain how Pace’s mission was to have a locker room free of distractions and risky behavior. While that ideal can never be guaranteed, by getting rid of the team’s biggest lightning rod, the Bears are much closer to reaching that goal. The ultimate goal, however, is to build a championship caliber team with players who are willing to put their selfish ambitions to the side for the good of the team. That is something they were never going to get with Marshall.
Luckily for Marshall, he no longer has to fly to New York to do his weekly show anymore. Ultimately for him, having his face in front of a camera and the constant limelight shining down on him is a lot more important than any of his team’s goals. Calling the number one media market in the country his new home will do wonders for his psyche. Luckily for the rest of the country, the New York press will be more than willing to record every single second of his life. That first locker room outburst will be absolutely spectacular.