Reporting Steve Silverman
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By Steve Silverman-
(CBS) The initial impression was that the Chicago Bears hit a home run when they acquired Brandon Marshall from the Miami Dolphins for a pair of third-round draft picks.
Marshall was the man in Denver when Jay Cutler was the quarterback for the Broncos. The Cutler-to-Marshall combination had not turned into Montana-to-Rice, but it was one of the best quarterback-wide receiver duos in the NFL.
The Bears had one of the most ordinary groups of wide receivers in the league and Marshall immediately became the headliner. Even if he had a past.
But then the past became the present again when it was revealed Marshall had been involved in an incident at a New York City club in which a female patron claimed she had been struck in the face by Marshall.
This report came late at night and the Bears quickly responded the following morning. They sent out a statement saying they had been aware of the incident and they still had faith in Marshall.
So, new general manager Phil Emery made his first big move for the Bears. His signature move. It involved a player who was reported to be involved in a violent incident with a woman. A player who had a history of violent incidents with women.
That does not seem like the kind of move you want to define your run as the team’s general manager.
The statement that the Bears knew about the incident is properly met with skepticism. The Bears are painted in the corner on this. If they had said they didn’t know, they would be criticized for not doing their homework on the player they acquired.
If they really did know, you have to question their judgment. Either way, the Bears look stupid.
At this point, Marshall has not been charged with any crime. Perhaps he won’t have any additional involvement with the criminal system. In that case, the Bears have gotten themselves a dominant wide receiver who can stretch the field and give the Bears a top of the line threat.
Last year, Marshall caught 81 passes for 1,214 yards and six touchdowns for the Dolphins. Marshall’s best seasons came in a Denver Broncos uniform. From 2007 through 2009, Marshall caught 307 passes and Cutler was his quarterback in ’07 and ’08.
Cutler and Marshall have remained in contact and the quarterback had mentioned during the offseason how much he wanted the Bears to bring his former top receiver into the fold. The Bears have not had an upper-echelon receiver since Marty Booker caught 97 passes for 1,189 yards in 2003.
Marshall joins a crew of pedestrian receivers. Earl Bennett is a solid possession receiver and nothing more. Roy Williams is an actor masquerading as a football player. Say goodbye, Roy. Devin Hester is still a project and that means he is not good enough. Johnny Knox suffered a brutal back injury last season and his comeback may not go smoothly.
There’s still more to do at this position and the Bears will almost certainly address it in the draft. If Marshall gets to play and has not done anything that will cause NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to suspend him, the Bears become a better team. However, if it is deemed that he acted in a criminal manner, he will miss valuable time on the field and the Bears will have a big, cheesy omelet messing up their faces.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman was with Pro Football Weekly for 10 years and his byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, NFL.com and The Sporting News. He is the author of four books, including Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football — The Top 60 Players of All-Time. Follow him on Twitter (@profootballboy) and read more of his CBS Chicago columns here.