Of course it's in everyone's best interest for new Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall to stay the course he says has helped him better cope with his Borderline Personality Disorder off the field.
By positively channeling the rage and other emotions that come with his affliction, Marshall hopes to avoid the off-the-field problems that have defined him almost as much as the prolific production on the field that has made him a three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver.
"It affected every year in my life, and on the field, it's made me a millionaire," Marshall says of BPD, which he was diagnosed with last summer. "It's made me one of the best receivers in the league. But off the field, it made me the guy that you guys (the media) are talking about on TV right now. That was the old me. That was me a year ago.
"I call it 'my gift and my curse,' because without that passion, without that intense approach to the game, which comes from a lot of my pain, a lot of my anger, I wouldn't be here today."
Domestic abuse and violence against women have characterized Marshall since before he entered the NFL in 2006. The latest episode occurred a little more than a week ago, when Marshall is alleged to have punched a woman in the face in the early morning hours at a New York City nightclub.
If Marshall doesn't halt that pattern of behavior, he's looking at a future that includes suspensions and fines, both of which are possible after the investigation of his latest transgression. But he acknowledges that some of the emotions that have tarnished his reputation have also fueled his performance on the field.
He says the therapy he's undergone to control his reactions off the field have changed him as a player on the field, where he has earned the nickname "The Beast," for his physical and emotional play.
"I'd catch a ball, and then I would be banging myself in the head," he said. "Intense screaming and yelling after I block someone. That is what made me good. It was the anger and it was the pain that was inside of me.
"Going through treatment and actually working through that stuff, working through things (that happened) when I was 6 years old, going through my childhood, the psychotherapy made me a softer person. It definitely took away some of the intensity, but I still have the same passion for the game. I still approach it the same way, but off the field, it just made me so much softer and so much lighter and so much healthier."
Whether or not he played with less emotion or intensity last season, Marshall still caught 81 passes for 1,214 yards and six touchdowns.
Aside from his therapist, maybe the most important influence on Marshall going forward is quarterback Jay Cutler. They played together in Denver for three seasons after being selected in the same 2006 draft class, Cutler in the first round and Marshall in the fourth. It's doubtful the Bears would have traded two third-round draft picks for Marshall without Cutler's recommendation.
When they were teammates in Denver, Cutler called Marshall out for his off-the-field behavior. But they have a close bond and, whether he likes it or not, Cutler will be held responsible for Marshall's behavior. That's fine with Cutler.
"Me and Brandon have a relationship," Cutler said. "There are times I'm going to be tough on him. There are times I'm going to give him a hug. I think he always knows I'm on his side through the good and the bad. Whatever it calls for, that's what I'm going to do."
But Cutler has confidence that Marshall doesn't require a full-time baby-sitter and knows he must walk a fine line.
"He's about to be 28 years old," the quarterback said. "He's a grown man. He's been through a lot of experiences, good and bad. And that's what has brought him to this point. He understands that."
--The fractured collarbone that unrestricted free agent Jason Campbell suffered in Week 6 last season probably prevented him from signing with a team where he could compete for the starting quarterback job. But it allowed the Bears to significantly upgrade their depth behind Jay Cutler.
"I knew that if it came down to it, I would have to accept a different role, maybe as a backup," said Campbell, who has started 63 games in the past five seasons despite missing the final 10 games last year. "You just go with it. There are no guarantees in life; there are no guarantees in football. You have to take the best thing that's presented to you and move forward."
Campbell's one-year, $3.5 million deal (including a $2 million signing bonus) with the Bears will allow him to test free agency next season when he hopes to be less of a health risk. He said he's already back to 100 percent health-wise.
"In early January, I was throwing the ball really well, and now I'm back at full strength," he said. "There's nothing wrong with my throwing motion. The surgery was great; they repaired everything so it comes back 100 percent. I'm just excited about that, being able to be out there on the field and throw the ball around again and running around. It's kind of tough sitting at home on the couch watching TV."
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