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updated: 5/19/2014 8:04 PM

Really now, Bears just right for reality TV

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  • Wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who has agreed on a new three-year contract extension with the Bears worth $30 million, would be a centerpiece on HBO's "Hard Knocks."

    Wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who has agreed on a new three-year contract extension with the Bears worth $30 million, would be a centerpiece on HBO's "Hard Knocks."
    Associated Press file photo


Even though the Bears would rather not, thank you very much, the NFL should force them to be featured on "Hard Knocks."

That's entertainment, folks.

Brandon Marshall reinforced that notion Monday with an appearance on national TV.

The Bears' wide receiver announced on the show that he and the club agreed to a new contract worth $40 million.

Actually, it's a three-year extension worth $30 million -- reportedly $23 guaranteed -- to go with nearly $10 million on the final year of his existing deal.

The real news wasn't that Marshall would sign a contract for all that money … it was that he will donate $1 million to "the mental healthy community."

On what show did Marshall reveal the contract news? On ESPN's "NFL Live"? On the NFL Network? On one of the myriad new cable sports channels?

No, Marshall was on "The View" with a group of female hosts, which indicates that he transcends all those sports outlets.

That alone should convince the NFL and HBO that the Bears are the right team at the right time for "Hard Knocks" this summer and every summer until Marshall retires.

Remember, the Bears also have personally and professionally complex Jay Cutler, a wealthy quarterback who just happens to be married to a reality-TV star.

The Bears also have talkative tight end Martellus Bennett, who thinks he's amusing and occasionally is.

All sorts of programming possibilities populate Bears owners the McCaskey family, from matriarch Virginia on down.

To top it all off are general manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman being adept at often making the obvious sound profound.

This is a cast of characters that ranges somewhere between the drama of "Downton Abbey" and the comedy of "The Big Bang Theory."

Now, let's put this in the context of history and concede that the Bears aren't nearly as much fun as the Raiders of the 1970s, the Bears of the '80s or even the Cowboys of the '90s. But this isn't those decades, either. The NFL, along with most sports leagues, tends to discourage the flamboyant.

The Bears are verging on being as interesting as any current pro football team. Marshall by himself is capable of becoming a compelling figure on any program.

He could go on "Ellen" to proclaim that he eats Godzilla meat for lunch. He could go on "The Tonight Show" to proclaim that he just signed a contract to play Hamlet on the London stage. He could go on "Nightline" to proclaim that a group of billionaires are drafting him to run for president as the nominee of the new One Percent Party.

None of those claims would be true but who would doubt Marshall, considering how fascinating his real life has been?

When the Bears traded for Marshall from Miami in 2012, the Dolphins were the second team thrilled to be rid of him. He had enough personal problems on his record to cancel out the outstanding achievements on his football record.

Nobody outside of Halas Hall would have been snickered at for predicting that Marshall wouldn't last one season before the Bears decided to release him.

But Emery has been prone toward attempting to salvage players with behavioral issues. Sometimes the gamble works and sometimes it doesn't.

Marshall, whose maturity and humanity has grown since arriving in Chicago, is Emery's most successful reclamation project. It turned out that Marshall had a mental-health condition -- diagnosed in 2011 as borderline personality disorder -- that he was determined to control.

So far Marshall has done just that. The operative words are "so far," but that alone would make Brandon Marshall a centerpiece on "Hard Knocks."

The rest of the Bears could come along for the ride.

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