Brandon Marshall’s season ended with an ankle injury Oct. 8. As he looks back, though, the veteran wide receiver believes that his first year with the Giants was ruined way before that.
“My mind was hurt,” he said.
It began with the day he signed his contract for less money than other teams were offering in the hopes of finding stability and a championship with the Giants. It was compounded as he tried to find a secondary role on the team behind Odell Beckham Jr. And it ended Thursday with him swearing that will never happen again.
“I’m back to my beast, bullish, Brandon Marshall ways,” he said in his first interview since the game against the Chargers that crippled not only him but the team. “The things that you guys have seen and the things that have gotten me in trouble in Year One, Year Two, Year Three, Year Four, I’m back to that type of mentality.
“I want it all.”
That means more money.
“Whatever is for me, I want it all,” he said. “If that’s $100,000, $500,000, $1 million, I want it all. Whatever I’m worth. I want it all.”
That means more glory.
“I think I’m two great years away from, and I’ll say it, I want to be a Hall of Famer,” he said. “I think I have two great years to go to be mentioned with some of the greats. I’m not playing this game just to be a guy, I want to be remembered for the product that I put on the field. These last two years have been tough, last year with the Jets and this year with the Giants, but I’m hopeful that the next couple of years for me will be some amazing years and some of my best work.”
And that means, of course, the elusive championship. “I want to win a Super Bowl,’’ he said. “That’s my number one priority.”
To do all of that, Marshall said he used his convalescence from the ankle and toe surgeries he had in October to recalibrate his life.
“The cool thing about injuries is you are alone, and when you’re alone, you get a chance to do some soul-searching and really look deep down into yourself,” he said. “For me, I realized a lot. I love this game. I wouldn’t say I’ve had one foot in and one foot out, but you never want to be that guy who is hanging on a little too long . . . I’ve always tried to prepare myself for [life after football], whether it is in business or with Showtime or my fitness company. These last couple of months for me put things in perspective. I’ve kind of scaled back on a lot of things I’m doing and I’m really focused on crushing these last couple of years. I’m all in on football.”
And all in on himself. That’s what made him such a polarizing figure for most of his career, but it’s also what made him so successful on the field.
“For me, I came in with the mentality of being a wingman,” he said of his role with Beckham as a teammate. “I came with the mentality that I would take less to play for a contender. I came with the mentality that I don’t need to do it all. I’ve gotten back to that way of thinking — I want it all.”
Marshall will be 34 in March. He is about two weeks away from starting to run after surgery. He has one year left on his contract with the Giants and no assurance that he’ll be back with the team that just named Dave Gettleman general manager and will find a new coach and possibly a new quarterback. He understands all of that.
“After you get to the plus side of 30, production slips, you get injured, the business side of it, history says you’re going to get cut or they’ll ask you to take a pay cut,” he said. “That’s the business side of it. I’m prepared for that.”
But after saying during the offseason that he’d play these two years and retire as a Super Bowl winner with the Giants, he’s backtracking from that idea. He is planning on two or three more seasons at this point and is unsure where they will be.
To that end, he has worked on taking years of football off his aging body to return to the NFL looking a decade younger.
“I want them to look at me and say, ‘What the hell is this?’ ” he said. “I want to go out there and the first route I run, I want them to say, ‘Is this guy 33 years old? Is this really a 33-year-old receiver that just came off two surgeries?’ That’s my focus right now is to reinvent myself. I want to go back on the field and I want everybody in the NFL to say, ‘This guy needs to be tested for steroids and HGH. There’s no way this guy should look like this and move like this.’ ”
A return to the physical Brandon Marshall of old, thanks to the weight room. A return to the mental Brandon Marshall of old, thanks to the lessons of this season.
“I came here with the mentality of laying low, not really being myself, and that’s not me,’’ he said. “I’m an outgoing guy. I play with a lot of emotions. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I’ll learn from this year and next year will be better. I’ll be a better leader, I’ll be a better football player and I’ll come with a dog mentality of getting the job done.”