Brandon Marshall goes after ESPN for pouring salt on old wounds
Brandon Marshall is upset that ESPN on Tuesday reran an episode of its E:60 program from two years ago that he claims focuses on his history of domestic violence accusations after he was told the piece would be about the positive more recent aspects of his life.
That's 47 words.
Marshall, however, spent a rambling 40 minutes Thursday afternoon relating personal stories of sexual, physical and emotional abuse, along with the sordid state of the current NFL that had, at best, a tenuous connection to his displeasure with ESPN.
"There are certain things in life that we try to run away from and we try to hide from," Marshall said. "Especially when you look at ... the current climate of the NFL, all these situations and allegations. There was a time back in the day that people with influence; professional athletes, entertainers, governors; they were like civil rights leaders. They had a voice. Now, it's sad, because of endorsement deals, because of contracts and because of public approval, we run away from certain topics.
"Last week I found myself running away from it, too, and that's not me. You know I love controversy because it's an opportunity, it's a platform to talk about some of these issues that really need to have light shed on (them)."
Marshall followed with the story of the sexual, physical and emotional abuse, and the isolation his mother suffered. That occurred in what he said was "a house, better yet an environment, a neighborhood where it was volatile, (where) there was domestic violence."
After years of pleading with his mother to get help for her alcoholism, she agreed and recently celebrated two years of sobriety and her 50th birthday after the Bears' season opener.
"She said, 'Son, this is the best I've ever felt,' " Marshall said. "And the whole room had tears in their eyes because you could see how healthy my mom was and how different of a lady she was."
It was an amazing transformation from the way Marshall remembered his mother while he was growing up.
"My mom was depressed, my mom was isolated, my mom was an alcoholic," he said. "I saw a lot of pain in my mom's eyes, I saw a lot of suffering, and the scariest thing was how my mom was isolated for years. I didn't know what that was. I thought my mom was just a mean person at times."
Marshall decried the present condition of the NFL and society, including domestic violence against women and children, but said he's encouraged by the NFL's ability to "transform lives (and) communities. We have influence to really shape and mold a culture," he said.
But Marshall was upset by his perception that ESPN attempted to exploit his past, specifically his often-violent relationship with long-time ex-girlfriend Rasheedah Wallace, to pump up ratings.
Marshall presented documentation of Wallace's lawyers asking for $1 million, then $500,000 and eventually $100,000 for her silence. There was also a letter from Ms. Wallace to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell where she wrote that she was pressured by family members to "make up things" to get hush money from Marshall.
Marshall said ESPN has always had access to the same material.
"What I'm disgusted over -- and I really believe it's not an issue of domestic violence, and it's not an issue of child abuse or drunken driving -- it's really an issue of the condition of our hearts as a people -- the way we treat one another.
"It doesn't matter if the man's the aggressor or the woman's the aggressor, or if we're disciplining kids in anger or disciplining our kids in love; it's really a matter of the conditions of our hearts. You see people trying to exploit situations, trying to exploit these platforms that we have, and I just encourage people to really be responsible with it. There's so much good we can do with it."
Marshall did not deny his own violent past, but he stressed the importance of not rushing to judgment, of letting the legal process play out and of giving equal weight to both sides of any story.
"That's why I'm so upset with ESPN," Marshall said. "And this is a really tough one for me because in situations like this, you're not going to hear people defend themselves. If you get defensive, if you speak your mind, you're going to be judged and you're going to make yourself look worse.
"For six or seven years I've sat back and accepted my part in everything that I've done, everything that I've been a part of, and I've listened to representatives say, 'Listen, you can't win this one.' And you can't. "But I refuse to sit back and continue to let ESPN or any network or outlet exploit my story. That's what's so upsetting, when someone can sit in my living room and look me and my wife in the eyes and say, 'Listen, this story is about what you guys are doing today. The mentorship. This is about your camp, your community weekend.' And then they use our story and sensationalize it to sell magazines and to get better ratings. It's time to stop."
Since the Bears traded for Marshall in March of 2012, he has not been involved in any legal matters, and he has never been found guilty of any domestic violence. He has been married to the former Michi Nogami since 2010.
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