Brandon Marshall has grown up, it seems.
He’s been a positive force in the Jets locker room and a source of strength in their passing game. And yet, the assumptions about his character and the labels about his personality still irritate him.
He’s moved on from his time in Denver, Miami and Chicago, but the playmaking receiver can’t escape how he’s still perceived.
“I don’t believe I’ll ever get past that,” Marshall said this week, “and that’s something I have to live with.”
His three seasons with the Bears seem to have scarred him the most. The friction between him and quarterback Jay Cutler became public fodder and his trade from Chicago to the Jets in March — for a fifth-round pick, no less — soured his positive experiences in the city.
“I was kind of shell-shocked a little bit how things happened last year in Chicago, mainly because of the things that I was trying to build in the community, and also breaking that perception and that stigma,” he said. “That was the first place that I felt like was home.”
And that experience also made his transition to the Jets, his fourth team in 10 seasons, even more difficult at first.
“I came into this situation not wanting to build relationships, not wanting to get attached to anything because I had a bitter taste in my mouth, as far as how things happened in Chicago,” said Marshall, 31. “When I got in here, immediately that changed.
“ . . . This is the best locker room, the best team I’ve ever been on, as far as from a management standpoint.”
The bond between him and Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was evident from the start, following Fitzpatrick’s unexpected promotion to starter. The pair had never reached the playoffs before joining forces, and their dream of a postseason run was extinguished in Buffalo after a 22-17 loss on Sunday. Nevertheless, Marshall shined during a record-setting first year with the Jets.
He was selected to the Pro Bowl for the sixth time, caught a career-high 14 touchdowns and had 1,502 receiving yards (just six yards shy of his career high). Though he admittedly was “a problem” and a headache elsewhere, the Jets’ coaching staff had no reservations about trading for him, and he proved them right.
“The second year in Miami is when I really got it,” said the receiver, who played for the Dolphins in 2010 and 2011. “That’s when the transformation started in my life. Now, I’m not perfect. I think that sometimes we confuse personality and character. That’s disappointing, because you don’t have to like me or the way I live my life or how I may talk or where I come from. But character is a big thing. And that’s all you have at the end of the day.
“I feel that the first couple years of my career, I did a great job of ruining that. I feel like when I got to Miami, I built on that a little more. And then the second year, I totally changed my life, changed my approach.
“So when things happen . . . whether it’s something on Twitter or whatever, people automatically assume because of my reputation. I don’t think I’ll ever change perceptions.”