NFL Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall will begin training camp on a new team this season, but his fight for mental health awareness has not changed.
Brandon Marshall was traded to the New York Jets this past March, the fourth stop in his NFL career. He is generally regarded as one of the top wide receivers in the game, having been selected to five Pro Bowls in previous stops with the Denver Broncos, the Miami Dolphins, and the Chicago Bears. Marshall has recorded career statistics of 773 receptions for 9,771 yards and 65 touchdowns – impressive numbers for the receiver known for his ability to break and dodge tackles.
He instantly upgrades a Jets offense in dire need of additional playmakers and should form a dynamic duo with Eric Decker, the team’s other starting wideout. With a little more stability at quarterback, they would be regarded as one of the most potent combos in the league. The well-traveled Marshall has embraced his opportunity to start anew in New York and views this as the last stop of his NFL career. He seems at peace with his role on the team and should be a great mentor and role model for the younger players.
In the early days of his career and as recently as a few years back, the words ‘at peace’ and ‘role model’ would never find themselves in a sentence about Brandon Marshall. Numerous off-the-field issues and clashes with teammates, coaches, and organizations led to legal troubles and the dissolution of relationships. Eventually, Marshalls’s first NFL team, the Denver Broncos, had enough and traded the troubled receiver to the Miami Dolphins in April 2010. Marshall would last only two years with the Dolphins, but he made the most important discovery of his life while with the team.
At the urging of then-teammate Ricky Williams, Marshall checked in to McLean Hospital in Boston, where he was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. On July 31, 2011, Marshall announced the news in an emotional press conference where he vowed to become an advocate for mental health. His hope was to spread awareness and understanding about the disease while reducing the stigmas attached to it, encouraging others with the disease to seek and receive treatment.
True to his word, Marshall has become an advocate fighting to reduce the stigma of borderline personality disorder. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Week, he donned a pair of bright green cleats for a game on October 10, 2013, which earned the receiver a fine from the NFL – an amount Marshall matched with a donation to charity.
Marshall has since become involved in educating the public about mental illness and disorders, both through his own platform and his involvement in others. Brandon and his wife, Michi, co-founded Project 375, which helps promote the awareness of mental health issues, fights to reduce the stigma, and raises funding for treatment. Courtesy of the Project 375 website:
“Mental illness is all around us. It hits both ends of the spectrum. It doesn’t matter whether you’re old or young, male or female, rich or poor or even your skin color. It affects 1 in 4 people reading this message. Until now, no one talked about it. But we’re changing the conversation. Because for every one person we educate on mental illness, one less has to suffer from it.”
Marshall has also recorded a series of public service announcements for Bring Change 2 Mind, which shares a similar purpose:
“To end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness through widely distributed Public Education Materials based on the latest scientific insights and measured for effectiveness. To act as a portal to a broad coalition of organizations that provide service, screening, information, support and treatment of mental illness.”
Brandon Marshall has shown incredible courage in standing up and announcing his problems to the world. In the testosterone filled world of the NFL – and in several other facets of the world we live in – the idea of showing weakness or vulnerability is seen as a lack of strength or toughness. Marshall has helped to change that conversation. Through his work with Project 375 and the countless other areas he has contributed his time and effort to combat the stigma of mental illness, Marshall remains true to his word and has become a beacon of hope for mental health awareness.
Photo Credit: AP
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