NFL players aren’t just football players anymore. These days they are whole brands and with that comes many a side project for said NFL player. However, former Chicago Bears and current New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall believes he knows why his former employer traded him away.
Marshall told multiple outlets that he was traded away from the Bears over his in-season work on the Showtime show “Inside the NFL.” He says that the writing was on the wall during a meeting with GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox last season, according to The MMQB.
“When I sat down with [general manager] Ryan Pace and coach John Fox, we met, and I asked, ‘What do you guys think about this?’ It was a big topic. And Ryan Pace said, ‘Well, we can do that in the offseason.’ So I was like, ‘Well, what about half the season?’ ‘No.’ ‘What about once or twice?’ ‘No.’ ‘What about bye week?’ ‘No, you can do that in the offseason.’
This happened back in 2014, before Fox was able to sign on former Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman to not only provide in-season commentary, but to be available to play a role on game day as well.
Still, having a side project is not a new thing for the majority of NFL players. The biggest issue teams have is if said side project gets in the way of their main job — playing football. That includes being around for practices, meetings and media availability.
Sorry, NFL teams invest multi-millions of dollars in players on an annual basis to play football…not to be a pseudo-analyst while also playing the game you supposedly love so much.
Whether it is a fashion designer, owning a record label or even interning in the front office of their employer for a life after the game…just about every player in the NFL has something else going on other than football.
Apparently Marshall doesn’t know that or see that around him in the NFL, because he believes the league and its teams handcuff players opportunities way too much.
“Right then, I knew I wouldn’t be a Bear anymore, because I think that the business of the NFL is growing every single day, and players are being told to stay in a box and just play football, and we’re missing out on a lot of opportunities, not only to grow as men and businessmen but to experience different things.”
In the end, Marhsall’s move to the Jets paid off and he got his wish to do in-season work for “Inside the NFL” after all.
As for Norman and his new role with Fox? Marshall is all about it…
“One of the reasons I did it is because I wanted to be thought-provoking, and for guys to start saying, ‘Wow, we can do this. What am I doing on my day off? Can I be doing an internship or taking a meeting or shadowing somebody?’ So when I saw Josh’s deal, I cheered for it. ‘Yes, that’s exactly what I want to see, that’s movement, that’s progress.’”
…except for the part of not saying anything to his coach about it.
Marshall then smiled, “But I think he could’ve told his coach. I mean, Josh, I don’t know what the heck you were thinking, bro. C’mon, man, you gotta talk to your coach! I did that. I talked to Phil Emery and coach [Marc] Trestman and we made the decision together.”
At least Marshall and others are starting to realize that football won’t be there forever and planning for a life outside of the game. It’s that part of the education process of its players that the NFL has made the greatest strides on over the last 20 years.
Whether its providing internships in front offices, helping players better budget their insane salaries or find a passion to pursue outside of the game — the NFL has done a much better job of helping players set themselves up for success after the game is done for them.
Now that guys like Marshall and Norman are doing their TV things during the season, we can only imagine the in-season jobs of players in the coming years.