(CBS) Bears receiver Brandon Marshall held a long and winding press conference Thursday in which he addressed a myriad of topics that pertain to the recent social climate in the NFL and how he’s been dragged back into its spotlight after being charged — but not convicted — in domestic violence cases three times in his life.
Below are many of his thoughts in his raw words on the issues. It isn’t the transcript in full but is much of it and addresses the main points.
The start of his long opening statement that addressed how his mother was abused when he was a youngster …
“There are certain things in life that we try to run away from and we try to hide from. Especially when you look at where we’re here today, the current climate of the NFL, the players, all these situations and allegations, it’s sad that there was a time back in the day, that people with influence, professional athletes, entertainers, governors, they were like civil rights leaders, they had a voice. Now, it’s sad because of endorsement deals, because of contracts and because of public approval, we run away from certain topics. Last week I found myself running away from it, too, and that’s not me. You know I love controversy because it’s an opportunity, it’s a platform to talk about some of these issues that really need to have light shed on it.
I grew up in a house, better yet an environment, a neighborhood where it was volatile. There was domestic violence. My mother was not only physically abused, mentally abused. She was sexually assaulted, and I didn’t understand it at the time when I was a child, I didn’t understand it until I was at (the hospital) and I was dealing with my own issues, that my mom was depressed, my mom was isolated, my mom was an alcoholic. I grew up, and I saw a lot of pain in my mom’s eyes, I saw a lot of suffering, and the scariest thing was how my mom was isolated for years.
“I didn’t know what that was. I thought my mom was just a mean person at times. We fast forward a couple years where my first year playing for the Bears, I get a phone call, we’re preparing for the Tennessee Titans and get a phone call from my mom and she’s crying, and for two years I was pleading and begging with my mom to get help, telling here that she was alcoholic and it wasn’t good, it was bad, it was really bad. Those conversations that we had, my brothers and sisters had with here and she called me one night and I kind of transitioned to a point where I was trying to be Mr. Fix It and just love, transition to a point where I was loving and compassionate.
“I approached my mom with curiosity and she called me and she was crying and I said, ‘Mom what can I do fo you? How can I help you?’ And she said, ‘I want help.’ And I said, ‘All right, we’ll get on the phone.’ Maybe it was a Friday, and the second half of the day and by Monday after the game we will have you in a place where you can get help. Told her I was proud of here, told her I loved her, told her I would support her in any way. So Sunday I got hee passes, she lives in Atlanta, so she drove over to the Tennessee game and I got her passes to be on the sideline and also some great seats, and I just remember looking at my mom, hugging her, loving her and she enjoyed the game but afterward that hug was a different hug because I knew my ma was about to be in for one of her toughest battles ever.
“She went to Betty Ford and got help, it cost our family over $100,000.”
On being dragged back in the spotlight by an ESPN profile of him and lawyer Gloria Allred…
“This is tough. This is a tough situation. It’s really tough because in situations like this, you’re not going to hear people defend themselves. There are certain things where, if you get defensive, if you speak your mind, you’re going to be judged and you’re going to make yourself look worse. For six or seven years, I’ve sat back and accepted my part in everything that I’ve done, everything that I’ve been a part of and I’ve listened to representatives say, ‘Listen, you can’t win this one.’ And you can’t. There’s no need to try and win it. But I refuse to sit back and continue to let ESPN or anything network or outlet exploit my story, because they don’t know the real story.
“ESPN really does know the story because they were sent those packets that you guys have with both sides of it (documents of court proceedings and therapy session notes that support Marshall’s case). That’s what’s so upsetting, when someone can sit in my living room and look me and my wife in the eyes and say, ‘Listen, this story is about what you guys are doing today. The mentorship. This is about your camp, your community weekend.’ And then they use our story and sensationalize it to sell magazines and to get better ratings. It’s time to stop.
“So many things that we talked about, like Mrs. Allred, the attorney in Atlanta, spoke very eloquently about some of these issues. Some of the things I agree with here and some of the things I do not. What we don’t know is the other side of the story. Like I said before, I think it’s important for us to let the process play itself out and do the due diligence because of my story.
“There are things in here that I’m not going to defend myself but if ESPN would’ve read this stuff or showed this stuff, it would’ve showed a totally different story. It would have showed the other side of things. But what ended up happening was, you saw one side, I probably lost $50 million worth of endorsements and salary. That’s OK, because 75 percent of these things were pretty much my fault because I was young and dumb. I was immature.
“I’m not going to read all of this stuff. I just want to sit up here today and say I think ESPN owes my wife and I an apology, because that’s the third time they did it. They had all of these things, the demand letters, the testimony from judges and bailiffs about the pictures that they showed on ESPN depicting a black eye. Where a judge and a bailiff talk about how those were false.
“This is unpopular what I’m doing. There’s going to be a lot of people criticizing me. But it’s been six or seven years and I haven’t said anything. I thought that giving this stuff to the network, ESPN, they would tell the right story, just to show my side. Just to show both so everyone can heal and grow from this, but they didn’t. They didn’t choose to do that.”
On a letter ex-girlfriend Rasheedah Watley sent the NFL saying Marshall didn’t abuse her …
“There is a letter form the Watleys, from Ms. Rasheedah Watley to the commissioner in 2008, where she states, ‘I was pressured to do this for money. My family pressured me. This stuff didn’t happen.’ Which isn’t all true because it was a very volatile relationship. We argued every single day. We treated each other bad. We had no business being in a relationship. It was just disgusting the situation that we kept ourselves in. There’s also a letter from our counselor where we did couple’s therapy. It shows both sides. This is the only thing I will read but also in this packet are the demand letters, when they were sent, asking for a million dollars, $500,000, $150,000, $100,000, so I use this and I say this again, because without this information, without anyone doing their due diligence, we’re going to put ourselves in situations where our guys, or even our women, can be condemned off of he said, she said, and that’s not fair.
On a random occurrence in his past that illustrates how he’s been in a tough position …
“I remember a situation I was in in Denver where I had my brothers and my cousins living with me, and they brought two girls home. This was probably after all of the drama and everything I had been through, and I wake up and one morning at probably three in the morning and there’s a lot of noise. There is this young lady who is throwing up all over my place. Me, I kicked her out. She went to my neighbor, which was four houses down, not the neighbor next to us, good thing that she didn’t, but she went to my neighbor who I was really close with and she said, ‘That football player down there raped me.’”
“So, it was a good thing that she went to that neighbor, because that neighbor sat down and really wanted to get her story. Also, her friend that was with her wasn’t drunk and came and said, ‘No that didn’t happen, she’s drunk and she just made that up.’ I say that because if that lady had went to the house next to me, I would’ve probably been arrested, it would’ve probably been all over the place and I would’ve probably been condemned for it.”
On his past interactions with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell…
“I started a conversation with Goodell in February at the Super Bowl and I was one, I just wanted to use the NFL’s platform to push my agenda and my cause (of mental health awareness). We set up a meeting and we didn’t get to that until June, July. When we sat down and met, it was interesting, because there was probably 10 people in the room and we were talking about systems and programs and how we can help our guys, how can we implement different things and what did I do to change my life? And at the end after four hours sitting there with them, talking about all these cases, he kicked everybody out the room and it was just me, him and Troy Vincent.
“He had tears in his eyes. He said, ‘Man, how can I help Josh Gordon? How can I help Davone Bess? How can I help these guys? We have this Ray Rice situation.’ He really was concerned. He really cared. That’s when I really gained a lot of respect for him. Because a lot of time we think of damage control. Or we’re trying to do this to protect the shield, but I gained so much respect for Goodell, even after everything. I met with Goodell twice, and it wasn’t pretty. This time was great, and I really appreciated that. Because he cared about our guys, he cared about our community and he kept asking me, ‘What is the call to action? What is the call to action?’ And I’m like, ‘Man, the call to action is just to talk about it. We just need to create healthy conversations.’ But he wanted something tangible, something people can go to and really wrap their hands and hears around it and really get help. I really respect the NFL for that, and this thing coming out the last couple days, it’s kind of alarming.
The conclusion of his opening statement…
“I kind of vented a little bit. But it’s kind of disappointing with everything that we have going on that we continue to deal with this for six or seven years. I’m not really disappointed in the he-said/she-said. I’m really disappointed in that all this information has been available in public for years now, but networks like ESPN continue to paint this picture that is lopsided and one-sided, and I just thought it was perfect timing for us to have this discussion with how we’re trying to be judge and jury in some of these cases.”
“Again, domestic violence is wrong. I hate to bring up someone else’s name, but the Ray Rice case is terrible. The things that I’ve been through in the past is terrible. I believe that there should be consequences. I believe in the six-game suspension and being suspended indefinitely. That may have been me, but I believe in that because I hope to have a daughter one day. I have a beautiful wife that’s loving and caring, that taught me how to love, and mended my heart, my broken heart. I have a mother that was sexually abused, physically abused, emotionally abused, and we’re lucky that we had the funds to be able to send her to Betty Ford to get the help that she needed.”