As someone who has been through his own personal challenges earlier in his career, Brandon Marshall sees a lot of himself in Giants cornerback Eli Apple, who was suspended Wednesday for conduct detrimental to the team for a series of incidents this season.
“I have compassion for him,” said Marshall, who has been out since the first month of the season after undergoing ankle surgery. “[Apple] is a guy that’s really struggling off the field, having a tough time. He’s a phenomenal athlete, he’s a good person. He’s just going through some things right now.”
The early part of Marshall’s own career was rife with off-field issues, and there was a time when even he didn’t know if he’d survive in a league that routinely discards problem players. Marshall was suspended in 2008 and 2009 while with the Broncos for conduct detrimental to the team, and he was charged several times for domestic violence while with the Broncos and later the Dolphins. In 2011, he was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, spent several months at the McLean Institute in Belmont, Mass., and has since turned his life around.
Marshall is now an outspoken advocate for mental health issues, and does what he can to help teammates deal with personal issues whenever possible. He has already reached out to Apple to see if there’s something he can do.
“I talked to him, and I want to spend time with him this off-season,” said Marshall, 33. “I told him it’s not about football. I want to help him get through this, because from my story, I ended up in a mental institute for three months in an outpatient program. With the proper approach and the right people around him, [Apple] can get his career back on track, because the last thing you want is to be labeled.”
Marshall knows Apple may never completely get away from what has become his reputation for creating problems. He has been benched several times this year, and got into a confrontation on Wednesday with cornerbacks coach Tim Walton after being told to play on the scout team because he had been demoted from the starting lineup.
“I’ve been labeled my entire career, and you can’t shake it,” said Marshall, who has been called a malcontent and locker room agitator wherever he has played. “People say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to give you a clean slate. The media will embrace you, the fans will embrace you.’ But as soon as anything comes up that looks anything like the past, it’s thrown up in your face. People don’t give you that grace [period] when you go through things and you’re labeled a cancer or you’re labeled a problem, a bad teammate. So for Eli, he has some work to do, and I think he can get his career back on track, because he’s a great kid. Got a lot of love in his heart. Great talent. He just needs to work at it this offseason, and whatever happens, I think he’ll be fine.”