Cheer up, Brandon: Marshall will like NFL Network’s film on him

My latest Chicago Tribune column is on all-Brandon Marshall, all-the-time. After his long, bizarre rant Thursday, which included railing on an ESPN E:60 profile, Marshall will should feel better after watching tonight’s A Football Life on NFL Network.

You also can access the column via my Twitter feed at @Sherman_Report.

Here is a video preview of the film.

From the column:


Brandon Marshall will like the NFL Network’s treatment of his life story better than ESPN’s.

The latest entry in the Marshall media blitz features him in “A Football Life” at 8 p.m. Friday. The one-hour documentary, produced by NFL Films, examines Marshall’s turbulent career and his battle to overcome borderline personality disorder.

“A Football Life” doesn’t use the term “domestic violence.” The film does acknowledge Marshall’s troubled past, which led to him receiving a personal-conduct suspension from the NFL when he was with the Broncos. It also delves into the 2011 incident in which his wife, Michi, was alleged to have stabbed him; charges eventually were dropped.

By contrast the two-year-old “E:60” profile, which re-aired Tuesday on ESPN2, concentrated heavily on Marshall’s previous issues with domestic violence.

Keep in mind the platforms are different. The NFL owns NFL Network. The tone of “A Football Life” can be summed up when narrator Josh Charles says Marshall is “one of the NFL’s great turnaround stories.”

“We wanted the focus to be on his (overall) story,” producer Shannon Furman said. “We know his past is past, and Brandon talks about it. The important thing is to see how he overcomes it to become a role model for a whole group of fans (with mental health issues) who never knew who he was before.”

Marshall is among only a handful of active players to be featured on “A Football Life”; last week’s installment was on “Mean” Joe Greene. Furman said the initial plan was to do a 7-10 minute feature on the Bears receiver for NFL Films. But after spending time with him earlier this year, she made the pitch to do an entire film.

“We normally don’t do current players for (‘A Football Life’),” Furman said. “But he’s so fascinating. We realized there’s so much more than just 10 minutes.”


The bulk of the film, though, is on Marshall’s struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder. Again, NFL Films’ access to game sound is able to graphically illustrate how the condition affects him. While on the sidelines during a game in Denver, Marshall is shown letting out a long, piercing wail that clearly shows his suffering.

Now armed with awareness and coping mechanisms, sound from Bears games dramatically reveals how Marshall still has to extinguish flare-ups that arise from his condition.

“The difference between him then and before is that it would take 2 or 3 days for him to come back,” Cutler said. “Now it’s a couple minutes.”


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