The Chicago Tribune spent a good bit of time and money digging into the past of new Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
Then they got way more than they bargained for.
In an extremely detailed story, the Tribune took a look at the past and present of the mercurial wideout. The surprise came when Marshall found out reporter Jared Hopkins had been back in his hometown of Pittsburgh investigating, and made a call of his own.
“This is Brandon Marshall. … I understand you’re trying to find out some information about me,” Hopkins wrote of a call he received from an unknown number.
That turned into an invitation to spend time with Marshall at his Florida home, and a lot of insight into the talented-but-troubled player’s past.
But at every turn, Marshall stonewalled many of Hopkins’ efforts to dig deeper, specifically into his relationship with his father, whose records show a familiar tendency toward violence toward women.
The story is well worth a cup of coffee and a read (it may require two), because it paints a complicated picture of a complicated man.
As Marshall goes back and forth with Hopkins, he alternated from welcoming to wary.
— “I want you to observe me for who I am,” Marshall said when he picked the reporter up at the airport. “There is a perception out there that is unfair, and there really is another side that I think will help your story.”
— “That’s not productive to the healing processes for my father and (my) relationship,” Marshall said. “And that’s more important than a good story and people understanding me.”
— “I keep saying ‘observe.’ You’re going to walk away here with a feeling of a positive experience or a negative experience,” he told the reporter. “You’re going to feel like something. … I can sit here and tell you anything and you can forget it. Or I can tell you anything and it really doesn’t matter. Right now I could be acting. I could be doing things I never do before, acting like I never act before. And you’d either forget it or it really means nothing because it’s a show.”
The whole thing smacks of Marshall working extremely hard to present a new image to a new town. There’s nothing wrong with a fresh start. But rather than reveal, there was more effort to conceal, and in that, Marshall may have painted a truer picture of the background that put him in the place he’s in today.