Scout team graduate Brandon Marshall remembers the struggle
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Technically you still get paid six figures on the practice squad, but I can tell you when I was on the practice squad after taxes it was $55,000 I made. We still get taxed in the highest bracket.
You try to help out your family, your mother, a little bit but they have to know – and you to let them know – you’re on the practice squad. So, I can’t do as much as I was able to do when I was on the active roster (before being demoted to the practice squad during his rookie season in 2012).
It’s definitely different than being on the active roster.
You want to help but at the end of the day you don’t know how long you’re going to be on the team or how long you’re going to be in the NFL. The practice squad doesn’t guarantee you anything. I mean, the active roster doesn’t either, but at least it’s better than the practice squad. So, you need to let them know I can’t give you the money this month or I can’t give you this much.
(Marshall is making $585,000 this season, or $34,411 a week, a far cry from the $5,700 a week he made on Jacksonville’s practice squad in 2012 or the $6,000 weekly pay check he earned on Denver’s practice squad in 2013).
When you’re on the practice squad, you feel like you’re a part of the team but you have to be careful if the guys invite you out for dinner and drinks.
You can’t do what everybody else is doing. You’re counting all your pennies. And hopefully they understand, so if you want to hang out with them, hopefully they’ll say, ”OK, B-Marsh is on the practice squad, he doesn’t have to pay.” Or, ”Let’s get separate checks.”
You’ve got to hang around with the right people.
I never had to beg off going out. I just had to be cognizant. I just went out and then when I got there if they wanted to split and I’m like, ”I’m on the P-squad, so I can’t chip in on whatever it is if it’s expensive.” So, it’s something you’ve got to be smart about.
P-squad players are often caught in a tough spot on the field, too.
You’ve got to get the team ready for the game. But I also got to get myself ready. Other players, they might tell you not to go hard. But then if you get cut, then what? They’re not going to pay you your salary if you get cut. They’re not going to give you any money. You know what I’m saying? So, you’ve got to ignore those guys when they say all that, definitely.
(After the Jaguars cut Marshall again in 2013, he opted to join Denver’s practice squad).
I remember I was at dinner with some of the guys that had made the team, and that’s when my agent called me like, ”Look man, they want you on the practice squad and you’ve got to choose between Denver, Oakland and Jacksonville. You’ve got 10 minutes.”
I called T-Knight (Terrance Knighton, then with the Broncos) real quick, ”Pot Roast, I’m like, Yo, what’s y’all situation like? They want me on the practice squad, what should I do?”
And he’s like, ”Man, you come here, you work hard, you’ll be fine, I promise you.”
I’m like OK, didn’t make me any promises. I’m like, wait, Oakland sounds good though. But they’re in the same situation Jacksonville’s in, they’re not winning, their head coach might not be there. So, I called my agent back up and I said, ”Hey, man. I’m going to Denver.”
I was so refreshed when I got to Denver. New opportunity. New start. Let me make the best of it because you don’t get too many opportunities, I’ve already gotten cut three times, let’s not make it a fourth. And who knows the fourth time, it might be over for me. But I embraced it. I loved it.
Even being on the practice squad, I was enjoying it because I got to be around greatness, Peyton Manning and all these guys in the locker room, I was like we have a great team man and trying to learn from these guys. It just helped me out.
(Marshall was promoted for the season finale in 2013 and the playoffs, then made the 53-man roster in 2014, when he led the team with 110 tackles. He again leads the team with 48 stops so far this season).
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL