5 Players To Watch: Week 2 Seahawks vs. Bears
Brandon Marshall has had hundreds of press conferences in his NFL career.
Thirteen years, six Pro Bowl selections and six times with 100 catches in a season tend to raise a guy’s status in the league, and thus his amount of limelight.
Yet the 34-year-old wide receiver had never entered a presser like he did on Thursday.
First, Marshall was talking between a return last week to where he first played in the NFL a dozen years ago, Denver, and another reunion in his second game with the Seahawks (0-1): Monday night at Chicago (0-1).
Even more, he rode a Razor scooter into his press conference. He scooted down a long ramp from the back of the Seahawks’ main meeting room at team headquarters in Renton to the front to talk at a podium.
“Shoot, Coach Carroll’s got about 20 of these around here,” he said when asked if scooter-riding was OK in the star wide receiver’s contract.
“We do things a little different around here. It’s fun.”
More fun, Marshall says, than the five previous teams for which he’s played: Denver, Miami, the New York Jets, the Giants—and the Bears, Seattle’s opponent for Monday night’s showcase game at Soldier Field.
“Oh, I mean, there’s no comparison,” Marshall said. “Obviously, I’ve been with a few organizations, great organizations. Last year, coach (Ben) McAdoo (leading the Giants) he had a nice environment, you know, a lot of music in the team meeting room. Never walked into a team meeting room where guys are dancing and just being themselves and comfortable.
Marshall then turned to his right and directed his right arm toward the regulation basketball hoop—with a glass, rectangle backboard and chain net—rising to regulation rim height on a metal stand at the right edge of the stage.
Each work day the Seahawks pit offensive players against defensive ones at the start of team meetings and film study, to determine which side can make the most baskets with a clock running down to a halting, air-horn blow. Players roar their support and ridicule at teammates shooting. The theme song from Michael Jordan’s and Bugs Bunny’s 1990s basketball movie Space Jam blares. The resulting mayhem shakes the walls of the meeting room.
“The team meeting room we’ve got a basketball goal,” Marshall said, marveling. “Guys can truly be themselves. That’s the biggest thing, right? They actually talk about it a lot, and when you are not being yourself, they are going to put pressure on you to get there. So that’s a good thing, right? Whatever your personality is, you can be that.
“A lot of times in the NFL they put you in a box and tell you, ‘This is what we want.’ A team meeting room like this, you walk in 97 percent of the team meeting rooms or meetings in the NFL is dead silence. I mean, you go for four or five hours, and no one is talking. Coach is up there going through the plays that you’ve been going through for six months.”
Marshall then thought of his most recent offense meeting, with coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
“Here, we’ve got music going. Today ‘Schotty’ said, ‘Take a break. Stand up. Shoot some baskets,’” Marshall said.
Same with Marshall’s first months and first game week as a Seahawk.
Seattle signed him in May to a no-risk, one-year contract worth the veteran minimum of $1,105,000 in base salary, with a chance for him to double that in incentive bonuses based on playing time and catches few thought he was capable of achieving anymore. At the time he signed he said he knew the rest of the league thought he was done. In 2017 he played just five games for the Giants, had a career-low 18 receptions and then had toe and ankle surgeries. New York released him in April.
The Seahawks called him a few weeks later, even though he had yet to run pain free following the surgeries. So he signed with Seattle.
Not like he had much choice.
“To be honest with you all, to be honest with myself, there weren’t a lot of other calls,” he said Thursday.
How happy was Marshall that Seattle called?
Last weekend, Marshall showed the rest of the league wasn’t done, after all. He was Seattle’s featured wide receiver; quarterback Russell Wilson targeted him on a team-high six throws while Doug Baldwin missed half the game with a knee injury that going to keep him out a couple more weeks at least. Marshall caught a 20-yard touchdown pass in the team’s 27-24 loss to the Broncos.
After the play, he spiked the ball hard into the end zone.
Marshall has 83 touchdown receptions in his career, third-most among active NFL players (the Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald has 110 and the Chargers’ Antonio Gates has 114). But last weekend at Denver was the first time in his pro career Marshall spiked a ball to celebrate a score.
“When I got to the NFL, I’ve just never been a big celebration guy,” he said. “I celebrated one time, and it was really bad. I threw snow up in the air, and I got fined. So I said, ‘That’s enough of that.’”
But before Marshall’s first game as a Seahawk last weekend, wide receivers coach Nate Carroll, the head coach’s son, met with his position guys and asked them, “What are you going to do (for a touchdown celebration). I want to hear it. Dances?”
“I’m going to spike the ball,” Marshall said.
“Just never been a big celebration guy. So it was good to be able to check that off of my bucket list.”
He could have had a second spike last week, but his 7-yard catch for a TD in the second quarter got wiped out when Marshall was called for pushing off Denver cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones in the end zone for offensive pass interference. Marshall said it may have been just the fourth time in his career he’s been called for that penalty.
Marshall could have had a third score later in the second quarter, and likely become the NFL’s player of the week, but for a timeout coach Pete Carroll called from the sideline for fear of the play clock running out. That just before Wilson took the snap and cocked his arm to throw to the 6-foot-5 Marshall one on one outside at the goal line.
That’s three times Wilson targeted Marshall in the end zone in their first game together.
Marshall began meshing tightly with Wilson in early August, a week into training camp. That’s when Marshall returned to full practice participation for the first time since his surgeries in October. Wilson spent a chunk of his preseason in practices throwing extra sideline and back-shoulder passes to his hulking receiver. Often, it was those two alone, at one end of the field, while the rest of the team held scrimmages focused on running plays. Or they stayed to work extra after practices when teammates were already inside the locker room.
What has he learned about his new quarterback?
“From afar, you can tell what type of guy he is. I usually work well with guys who love the game, respect the game. So, I wasn’t surprised (at that),” Marshall said.
“The thing that I was surprised about was how awesome his leadership is. His leadership every single day is unwavering. His work ethic, that’s the thing I talk to him about all the time. It’s like, ‘Bro, you’re awesome. You’re amazing.’”
Marshall said he hit up his quarterback, who is well-known on social media for his #NoTime2Sleep postings, this week with request.
“Yesterday I texted him ‘Get seven hours and a half hours of sleep. We don’t need you working off of four or five hours,’” Marshall said.
“Those are some things that jump out to me: his work ethic, his leadership. His leadership is just next level. He’s a great guy to play with. I’m really enjoying playing with him.
“The kid is special. I just want him to sleep a little bit more. We are working on that. But, the kid is special.”
Then Marshall looked to the present and future Seahawks, post-Richard Sherman. Without Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril. The ones that are going to be without Pro Bowl veterans Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Doug Baldwin, are likely to be without right cornerback Tre Flowers (doubtful, hamstring) and will be playing a fourth choice at weakside linebacker already this season.
Mychal Kendricks, a Super Bowl starter for Philadelphia in February, will make his Seahawks debut after just two practices with them—and while appealing imminent NFL punishment for admitting to insider trading. Kendricks, signed this past week to a week-to-week deal, is also facing possible prison time. His sentencing is scheduled for January.
Despite all the upheaval and injuries already this season, Marshall sees one asset as potentially season-saving.
“When you have 3 (Wilson’s jersey number),” Marshall said, “and you have some of the other leaders, you’ll always have a chance to be in every single ball game.”