MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 11: Brandon Marshall #19 of the Miami Dolphins catches a touchdown pass against Nnamdi Asomugha #24 of the Philadelphia Eagles during a game at Sun Life Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
The Chicago Bears traded for Brandon Marshall on Tuesday afternoon, and he might already be the best receiver in franchise history. Marshall also brings plenty of baggage to Halas Hall.
Every high school student in America knows Wikipedia isn't a trusted resource, until it is. With new Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall, it feels like his Wiki page is all you need. At the top, you'll find testimonials to a man nicknamed "The Beast" -- a moniker so fitting it's almost distressing. We'll save the flip side of the double entendre for later; good stuff first. Take the floor, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers:
"Brandon Marshall is a defensive lineman playing wide receiver. He wants to inflict punishment on you. He wants you to try to tackle him so he can shove you off of him and get more yards."
Nnamdi Asomugha, star corner for the Philadelphia Eagles, adds more praise: "[Marshall is] the toughest guy to bring down, one-on-one." The stats are nearly as impressive. Marshall owns five straight seasons with over 1,000 yards receiving; no Bear has had one that since '02. Marshall has caught 100 or more passes in three different seasons; the Bears -- who have been in existence since 1922 -- have only once employed a receiver who has finished with triple-digit receptions. His 34 career touchdown catches in just six seasons (and, really, he barely played as a rookie) would already rank fourth in franchise history. He turns 28 later this month.
This is the player Chicago lost its cool for on Tuesday afternoon when it was announced that the Bears had traded a pair of third round draft picks to Miami for Marshall. He's unarguably the best receiver in team history already, and the latest in a long line to wear the 'savior' tag like a cross for Chicago's perpetually inept offense. He is everything the Bears needed on the field. He also didn't waste any time showing why a receiver this prolific was traded for only two mid-round draft picks.
Late Tuesday night, only hours after the trade went through, it was reported that the league was set to question Marshall for his part in an altercation in New York late Saturday night. The headline in the New York Post was a nightmare for Bears fans:
NFL receiver Marshall 'slugs' woman at Chelsea nightclub
Yes, a 24-year woman has accused Marshall of punching her in the left eye after a scuffle that saw Marshall's wife sustain "serious injuries" after being hit by a thrown bottle. As the New York Post said: "it wasn’t clear if he allegedly intended to strike her or one of her pals."
It's never easy with Brandon Marshall -- he is quite possibly the poster boy for the contemporary 'misunderstood' athlete. As great as the top half of Marshall's Wikipedia page is, with the peer endorsements and the stats, the bottom is equally damning.
On Halloween 2004, Marshall was arrested for assaulting a police officer. In 2007, he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. The charges were later dropped after he completed anger management counseling. Later in the year, he was ticketed for a DUI. In '08, he was arrested in Georgia on misdemeanor battery charges. A year later, he was arrested in Atlanta for disorderly conduct after a fight with his finance.
More highlights: In 2008, Marshall severed an artery and a vein in his arm, damaging a nerve and cutting tendons to five muscles. He told the Broncos he slipped on a McDonald's wrapper and put his arm through a TV. He later admitted he made up the part about the McDonald's wrapper; rather, his arm went through a TV because he was wrestling with a family member. In April of 2011, Marshall was taken to the hospital after being stabbed near his stomach with a kitchen knife by his wife.
After I interviewed Derrick Rose in October, I remarked to friends and family that Rose will ruin so many Chicago sports fans forever. He's too perfect. Allow me to be lame and quote myself: "After rooting for Derrick Rose", I remember telling several people, "how could you ever root for, like, Brandon Marshall?"
Now Marshall is a Bear, brought to Chicago to act as a defibrillator to an offense that lost all life a season ago when Jay Cutler went down for the final six games with a thumb injury. Even as the Bears made us wonder if this was the best offensive unit we've ever seen from the franchise during the first 10 games, the need for a playmaker exactly like Marshall was plain to see. For three seasons, Cutler has been painted as a lone ranger in Chicago. That's all about to change.
The trade for Marshall came out of nowhere; one moment, everyone was talking about Chicago's courtship of defensive end Mario Williams, the next, Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported they had finally given Cutler the big target he has been yearning for. Perhaps we shouldn't have been caught so off-guard, though.
Just weeks after the season, Cutler and Marshall began chatting back and forth on Twitter, with Cutler telling his former wide receiver "I can get #15 out of storage! Suit you back up."
Yep, Marshall will be wearing No. 15 in Chicago, and Cutler will be throwing him the ball -- the same pairing that compiled huge statistics in Denver in 2007 and 2008. The past, it's here again.
A lot can go wrong with Brandon Marshall. Hell, it already started. But if Marshall can mostly avoid the type of behavior that has weighed him down his entire career, Cutler's injury may look like a blessing in disguise for this franchise. Let's be honest: Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, and Charles Tillman have been very productive players for a long time. Each is on the wrong side of 30. At some point, they will slow down. The Bears needed to make one last desperate push to try to win a Super Bowl with a defensive core that has been in place for an eternity by NFL standards.
For those who were too young to witness the greatness of the '85 team, the Bears are characterized by bad quarterback play, lackluster wide receivers, and uninspiring offenses. In 2012, that should all change. These aren't the Dave Wannstedt or Dick Jauron era teams anymore. When those teams made splashes in the offseason, they came away with Bryan Cox or Phillip Daniels.
The deal to get Cutler from Denver three seasons ago changed the culture of the franchise, and it continued when the Bears gave a record-setting amount of money to Julius Peppers the next offseason. The acquisition of Marshall feels like a new identity coming full circle. This move is a red-alert, grade five risk, the type the Bears would have been too shy to make for many years. Now, they just might be Offseason Champs for the third time in four seasons.