Brandon Marshall has never been to the postseason, so this year with the Giants losing is nothing new for him. The only thing unique about it, he said, is his role.
“For the majority of my career I’ve been in this type of environment and I’m usually in the center of it,” he said. “It felt good not being in the center of the drama.”
That said, he never thought the season would wind up as it has, with the Giants staring at a 2-13 record coupled with internal strife the likes of which have seldom been seen from an organization that prides itself on avoiding such embarrassments. As a veteran receiver who has been on injured reserve with an ankle injury since Week 5 — when the Giants were 0-5, by the way — he said his first impressions of this team and franchise were far different from how things ended up.
“I’ve never been in the type of team meeting that Coach McAdoo had, the energy,” he said of his first time with the team back in April. “I got goose bumps when I walked in that first team meeting. The music was on, guys were dancing and loving on each other. I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I’m ready to play right now.’ In camp we were like internet sensations, the locker room guys dancing and coming together. I’ve never been a part of that.”
So what happened?
“And then we got into the season,” he said, “and we lost a game.”
Then another. And another. And pretty soon those bonds that had been forged began to rot.
“When you are in a billion dollar industry and you have million-dollar athletes, when you start losing, [expletive] gets out of control quick,” he said. “Same thing that happened with the Jets. Same thing that happened with Chicago. It happens. Relationships are damaged, people get fired. One of the things I’ve learned is we’re all interconnected and it’s really hard to keep that together when you’re being evaluated every single day and there is so much on the line.
“It’s extremely tough when you are losing and there is so much on the line,” he continued. “Jobs are on the line. People are going to be fired. Kids are going to have to switch schools and make new friends. That’s the toughest part. It can get out of control really quick. So what happened here is no different from what happened with the Jets during my time in the league. It’s no different from what happened in Chicago. It’s no different from what happened in Denver. It’s no different from what happened in Miami.”
All of those teams, of course, had a common denominator: Brandon Marshall. So maybe he’s not the best person to ask how to fix the Giants. But then again, why not?
“It starts in the locker room, it starts with the players,” Marshall said when asked what needs to change with the Giants to avoid another season like 2017. “There are like 10 to 12 of us who can get together. We have to rebuild relationships, fix relationships, because this is what happens. This isn’t a unique situation. I’ve been in this situation my entire career, so this is normal when you’re losing. It’s really tough. It’s a long year, a long season. So what we need to do first is we need to rebuild some relationships, come together, work through some tough issues.
“Once we do that we have to come together and figure out how we want to run our locker room,” he said. “What type of leadership do we want to have? What does leadership look like? It’s different for everyone. The type of leadership that is going to bring guys together is not divisive. We need leadership that will hold guys accountable, even if it comes down to guys getting in each others’ faces at the right time — before it’s too late. We need leadership that is going to make guys better.”
Marshall pointed to guys such as Damon Harrison and Landon Collins as potential leaders for the team moving forward. But he also wants to be part of it, too.
“I want to take some of the things that I learned from being in some tough situations and some good situations with some leaders and try to figure out how we can do it together,” he said.
Marshall insisted he’s been through far worse than the Giants have endured in 2017. He spoke about meeting with Dolphins coach Tony Sporano and watching an ESPN report that the team was interviewing Jim Harbaugh for Sporano’s job before they’d even fired him. The Giants, at least, have not reached that depth.
“This business is crazy, man,” Marshall said, “but I love it.”