Friday, October 9, 2009

A Case for Brandon Marshall

-It's an orange bird! An orange plane! It's the most talented Denver Bronco!-

Current Standing: 1-3, 9th overall

It seems like only yesterday that I received an urgent text from the Colebagel: "Manny traded to the Dodgers." It was quickly followed by an angry volume-distorted phone call. How could this be? More than an eccentric, devil-may-care fan favorite on the Sox line-up, Ramirez was a natural talent. Even when it appeared he was half-assing it, he was hitting home runs. Steroid discussions aside, this was the case. Manny's bat was literally the backbone of Sox wins (and Ortiz's was probably... I dunno, a right femur). And he was traded. Why?

A "bad attitude".

Manny could be volatile. He pushed some agent once. He angered teammates by clearly not putting in 100% all the time. He clashed with Theo "franchise player, my ass" Epstein over his contract. Alright. He was a hand full. He was simultaneously known as one of baseball's greatest players and one of baseball's biggest SOBs. But, as Cole and I wondered (and I'm guessing a good chunk of Sox fan are still wondering), if you can do something singular, something fantastic, shouldn't that be a factor in evaluating a player's conflict with my-way-or-the-highway management?

Welcome to the Brandon Marshall story. Don't get me wrong, this is not a manifesto defending every me-first multi-millionaire jackass that bitches their whole life about playing a game for a living. No. Rather, let's call it an overview of why when this happened Sunday, an entire nfl audience wondered "where the hell has this guy been?"

It's been widely publicized, but here's a quick run down: Marshall, already a big time WR, or at least largely hyped, was nearly suspended by Broncos coach Josh McDaniels for a bad attitude during training camp. Apparently, Marshall was not happy with his contract. At the time of this blog's fantasy draft, Marshall's digital self was flagged as a huge risk. He and the coaches hate each other. Will he play often? Will he play hard? No one knew.

The flag was well deserved. Marshall barely registered for two weeks with a combined 6 fantasy points (7 total receptions [yeah, Pilk can cite stats too]), and no end zone frolicking. When McDaniels was asked where his star player was, he stated "there are a lot of guys on our team who deserve to play." And, for anyone paying attention, your BS detector should now be going off.

As fans of Coors Light know, in professional sports you play to win the game. Of course every player on the team deserves to play, but not all of them are optimal options to be a positive factor in actual game play. And some are better than others, and that is valued in the NFL system. Salaries prove that. So when Marshall, clearly an optimal choice, is on the bench, it looks a little fishy. Like "hissy fit sour grapes over smart winning strategy" fishy.

None of us lowly fans are gonna sit here and make the Devil's advocate argument about the pressures of celebrity to explain questionable behavior. (commanding millions of dollars in a highly competitive field, the immense pressure, yada, yada, yada). I accept that Marshall was a jerk in the preseason. I get it. Fine him. Slap his wrist. Hell, make him doubt that if he'll actually play. But when any given Sunday rolls around... you play him. Right?! You play any player with this talent. Unfortunately, the Bronco's record doesn't reflect any bonehead justice, they're 4-0. But in a notoriously short season, where every game counts, why risk it? You play your best players. Period. I mean, I know I'm new here, but I thought this was the case. Professional sports. Right? Am I on the wrong floor?

It appears there is a happy ending for Marshall, McDaniels and the Broncos (or at least happier than Manny vs Epstein, but, hey, we like you, J-Bay). Everyone is abuzz about Marshall's sweet play this Sunday and, as you can see at the end of the video, he and McDaniels hugged it out. Apparently, McDaniels has had nothing but praise for the guy he had to scare the crap out of before giving him a few plays per game. As my league's Marshall owner, yeah, I wish Josh and the Broncos organization found another way. But these are the politics of professional sports, as you sports people are telling me, and as I should learn to see, I suppose. It doesn't make sense to me, but hey, neither does this.

Welcome back, Brandon? I hope? And smooth move, McDaniels. Let's all try and get along, play nice, all that. And most certainly win.


  1. Brandon broke the single came catches record on Sunday against the Colts. When his mind is in the game, he is the best receiver in the league.

  2. I know it! He had something like 31 points for me in Cole and I's fantasy format this week, my high scorer of the week (even over Brees).

    I wouldn't mind a repeat, Brandon. Just sayin'.