Marshall's mouth adds spice to Miami

BY Reid Forgrave • October 14, 2011

Where have you gone, the brash, bold, bombastic NFL wide receiver?

Where have you gone, Terrell Owens, with your team-killing, chemistry-imbalancing selfishness?

Where have you gone, Chad Ochocinco, with this nine-reception-and-zero-touchdown disappearing act you’re putting on in New England — alongside the best quarterback in the league, no less? Where have you gone, this distinctly NFL phenomenon, this archetype of the immensely talented, trash-talking, end-zone-dancing, bad-contract-complaining, pass-dropping wideout, a line of succession starting with Andre Rison and passing the torch from Michael Irvin to Keyshawn Johnson to Randy Moss?

Oh, wait. There you are. Appears you took your talents to South Beach. So far this year you’ve “led” the beleaguered Miami Dolphins to an 0-4 record heading into Monday night’s game against your hated rival, the New York Jets. You — and you know who you are, Brandon Marshall, star wideout, epic prima donna, two-time Pro Bowler, and now the clubhouse leader for NFL’s Craziest Comment of 2011 — have caught only one touchdown this year. And things don’t look up for you, not since quarterback Chad Henne went down for the year and Matt Moore became the man throwing you the ball.

What better time for you, the heir apparent to the bombastic wideout crown, to go say something crazy? Like, say, that you plan to play Monday night with passion — so much passion that you plan to get kicked out of the prime-time game midway through the second quarter?

“I don’t care if I have two, three cameras on me,” Marshall told reporters Thursday as the media drooled in anticipation of his coming words. “I don’t care if I have penalties. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to let it all out. I don’t care what you guys write or what the commentators say. I’m just going to play football. That’s what I’m best at. I’m best when I play emotional. I’m best when I play with passion. You guys are going to see that on Monday Night Football. I don’t know if it’s throwing a football 15 yards in the bleachers, or getting a 15-yarder, or punting the ball and getting thrown out of the game. But something is going to happen. I’ll probably get kicked out after the second quarter.”

Surely you’re joking, Brandon, the reporters said, giving him a rare chance at a mulligan.

“I’m not joking,” Marshall replied. “I’m serious. They want to fine me, hit me with a $50,000 fine. I’m going to play. The quarter-and-a-half I’m out there, I’m going to play like a monster. I might get into a fight with Bart Scott … We’ll see.”

Hmmm. Doesn’t sound like much of a game plan here, for the top wide receiver for the third-lowest-scoring team in the NFL — and next-to-last in touchdown receptions — to head to the showers before halftime.

With Marshall, like with so many before him, we shouldn’t be surprised. Whereas some players are all class, Marshall prefers getting kicked out of class. He got chased out of Denver, a short, stormy tenure that included a suspension after a contract-induced temper tantrum at training camp.

Of course, his Denver tenure also included an NFL-record 21 receptions in one game. The good with the bad: That’s the calling card of the bombastic wideout. Only Marshall has a bit of a wild card, too, with his diagnosis of borderline personality disorder – no laughing matter, especially considering T.O.’s alleged attempted suicide this week, but perhaps one explanation for why Marshall decides to occasionally go bat-stinkin’ crazy.

The knock against these types of wide receivers – and why are they always wide receivers? – is that they’re as much a cancer to a team as they are irresistible fodder for sportswriters. They distract from the good things happening (read as: the boring quotes). They direct all the attention to themselves. Worst of all, they ruin team chemistry. (see: Terrell Owens, 2005 Philadelphia Eagles.)

Yet these antics quickly wear thin when your coach is on the hot seat, and your team hasn’t won a game, and you haven’t had a particularly impactful season. Ochocinco can tweet all the crazy-talk he wants since he’s a bit player on a juggernaut of a team. T.O. could dance and prance and rip his quarterback, as long as they were winning. Marshall? The Dolphins are one of the bigger disappointments in football this year, and Marshall has yet to play on a playoff team.

But maybe there’s a method to Marshall’s madness. Desperate times require desperate measures, and few teams are looking as desperate as the 0-4 Dolphins. This Miami team, winless and hopeless, needs whatever type of spark it can find. At least Marshall is excited, and perhaps he lights a fire under a listless fan base drowning its sorrows in another dismal season. They need something to cheer for. After all, when the Dolphins host the Denver Broncos next week for Tim Tebow’s first start of the year, the home team’s promotion for the day will be … wait for it … honoring the 2009 BCS champion Florida Gators, who were led by Tebow.

Yes, the Dolphins will honor the opposing team’s quarterback before a game.

So maybe Marshall’s words became the first piece of news, good or bad, that anyone’s cared about out of Sun Life Stadium in weeks. Hell, it’s fun. His head coach didn’t seem to mind: “He’s not going to do anything to hurt this football team,” Tony Sparano said, adding that Marshall was “50 percent kidding.”

I, for one, love these bombastic wide receivers. I love wondering what they’ll do next. I think they’re good for the league — although what generates more interest in the NFL doesn’t always generate more wins for their team. In this case, though, who knows? Call Marshall crazy, but sometimes a little crazy is a little good.

With these 2011 Dolphins, it can’t hurt, right?



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