One man’s pariah is another team’s pleasure.
At least that’s the way Brandon Marshall has been treated this week by teammates past and present. Just two days after Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson called Marshall a “drama queen” in a Newsday interview and suggested that the Jets are better off without him, his Giants compadres insisted they are the team that has most benefited from the wideout’s crosstown move this offseason.
“Brandon has been a breath of fresh air for us,” coach Ben McAdoo said Thursday after the Giants’ third OTA practice. “He works hard at football. It’s refreshing to have a guy who has been as productive as he has over his career and has played as long as he’s played being out here working the way he works. You can really see that he loves the game.”
The Giants who have known Marshall the longest — two former Jets teammates — vouched for him and his value.
“He’s slim, he’s running fast, he’s hungry and he’s excited,” quarterback Geno Smith said. “I’m excited to see what he can do in this offense.”
Smith demurred when it came to addressing Richardson’s specific criticism — “I’m in a pretty good space here and those things aren’t about me or have anything to do with me, so I’ll leave it at that,” he said — but former Jets defensive tackle Damon Harrison had no such filter.
“Sheldon,” a grinning Harrison said, looking into one of the many cameras that surrounded him, “get away from the damn microphone!”
Marshall said he was a bit upset about Richardson’s remarks. “I’m human,” he said.
Marshall, 33, admitted that earlier in his NFL career, perhaps the first four or five years, that kind of assessment might have been true. Last year, though, he said everyone on the Jets had a hard time.
“It was a tough year for us,” he said. “In the National Football League, that’s not unique. There are 31 other teams trying to win a Super Bowl. It didn’t happen for us. We had high hopes coming off that first year we were all together in 2015, and it kind of blew up in our face, so we were disappointed.”
Now, though, the 11-year veteran is with the Giants, which he called one of the NFL’s top three franchises and one of the best teams in any sport.
“I have never been on a team with so much swag, so much dancing, guys dressing amazing, guys with great hair,” Marshall said. “Did you see that I changed my hair this year? You see this? I’m just trying to keep up with these guys.”
He said during his time with Phil Simms on the set of “Inside the NFL,” the former quarterback often would yammer on about how great it was to play for the Giants. Marshall said he thought Simms was just blowing smoke. Now, he said, he realizes how true it is. “This truly is a special place,” he said.
None of those platitudes will matter unless Marshall produces. On Thursday, he beat cornerback Janoris Jenkins down the left sideline and hauled in a deep pass from Eli Manning.
It’s been hard to miss Marshall at practice, not only because his 6-4 frame towers over the rest of the receivers but because of the red tights he wears.
“I forgot mine in the locker room,” McAdoo said.
But it’s more than that that has the Giants giddy about their addition.
“He always has a smile on his face and he’s looking to learn,” McAdoo said. “He’s a big, impressive man. He’s building chemistry with Eli each and every day, so it’s encouraging.”