Understanding Brandon Marshall
Brandon Marshall opened his home to the Tribune to offer a genuine sense of the new Bears star. The picture that emerged was of a man striving for serenity in his life while keeping inquiries into his tumultuous family past at arm's length.
The expression is a fitting conclusion to the search for how Marshall's family and surroundings shaped his life.
Despite his arrests and all the controversy, Marshall has had success. He escaped Pittsburgh to achieve what many back home only can dream of. He has found peace on the football field.
At times he has created order in his life, keeping his family and his past — the chaos that produced him — behind a boundary. He wants to be seen as living in the moment — a family man, a follower of Christ, someone who gives back to the community, a man in transition.
But he cannot seem to escape trouble.
The same weekend Marshall addressed an audience of advocates and medical professionals about mental illness came the encounter outside a New York nightclub that overshadowed his arrival in Chicago. Charges are not expected; no charge of violence against Marshall has ever stuck in court.
When I visit Marshall in the doldrums of the offseason, there is no nightclubbing. At Marshall's house, grown men play billiards and dominoes into the early hours. No one has a drink or is even offered a beer. One night, Marshall sips a little wine with his steak at an oceanside restaurant.
At a weeknight church service before Easter, I watch Marshall next to his wife in the pew, singing quietly and moving his towering frame from side to side. I notice the cuffs of his dress shirt are embroidered with the word "Beast" — a nickname he earned thanks to his oversized talent but one that also hints at the violence that follows him.
When I bring this moniker up the next night, he corrects me. He's trying to distance himself from it.
"Nah, we don't use that," he says. "We're trying to phase that out."