By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Sorry, Brandon Marshall.
Sorry that you witnessed and suffered abuse as a child. Hearing personal experiences of violence toward women and children rips my heart up. Sorry that multiple female relatives of yours have been sexually assaulted. Sorry that the residual effects in your mother and the terrible relationship with your father warped what should have been a happy childhood everyone deserves. Sorry that “Every single day was a fight for (you) and an argument.” For all that, I’m so truly sorry.
Sorry that you deal daily with mental illness and the stigma associated with it.
“I get pissed off sometimes,” you said Thursday. “And the first thing people want to say is, ‘Hey, he’s crazy’ or ‘That’s that borderline personality disorder’ or ‘Go talk to someone.’ I have people close to me that play into the stigma, and I’m just having a bad day and that has nothing to do with borderline disability disorder, but that’s immediately what people go to because it’s the stigma.”
Sorry those feelings about the stigma but what also can’t be dismissed as symptomatic of your disorder compelled you to give that press conference Thursday. Partly that you feel so troubled that you had to dismiss reported pleas from the Chicago Bears to not go up to that microphone. It was largely a trainwreck fueled by poor judgment and planning by you and others.
Mental illness isn’t something to be taken lightly, and it’s very much underdiagnosed, undertreated and underappreciated. And it really sucks to have to take to task a man who has worked so hard to regain the respect of the NFL community through mental health advocacy and model behavior all while battling personal issues I can only read up on and not empathize with.
Sorry that your borderline personality disorder makes having to write this so unpleasant and regrettable. But this isn’t about me, just as yesterday shouldn’t have been about you.
Sorry that in this volatile time for the NFL — a time in which there’s growing ire toward men paid to be violent on the field taking that violence off of it as well — you didn’t understand Thursday that your lecture at the lectern came off as the opposite of what I’m sure you were aiming for. Regardless of your feelings of being wronged, that was a really bad time to ask the media and the public to consider two victims — the one abused by violence but also the one supposedly abused by media. What you did at the mic was counterproductive, and that’s unfortunate.
Sorry, it was actually counterproductive two-fold. It perpetuated victim-blaming among the foolish so desperate to justify violence, allowed the misguided and shortsighted the chance to blow their dogwhistles of “agenda” and set fire to your credibility regarding the really good work you and your wife do raising awareness for mental health.
Sorry that you don’t see how harmful to the conversation on violence it is to bring in anecdotal evidence of an intoxicated woman falsely accusing you of rape in front of several witnesses. How crappy it is to single out reporter Peggy Kusinski on Thursday and put in her in a hypothetical about assaulting her. How citing couples counseling shows you and some supposed domestic violence professionals don’t understand how it needs to be handled.
Sorry how you victim-blamed your ex-girlfriend very publicly at that press conference and let your mention of her violent upbringing pass without irony. How you used all of those things as tools for a strange vendetta against ESPN masked as a crusade.
Sorry that the Bears fear you — that they play into the stigma that you referenced and worry that you can’t handle them saying no to you — and didn’t step in to prevent them and you from looking worse off from this. Had the Bears said no, you presumably would be angry and disappointed, but you also would avoid taking a personal beef with a network that really seems to have just done its job and adding it to a mountain of bad PR for football right now.
The ESPN program you feel has wronged you wasn’t creating much of a stir until you went on a Twitter rant about it (which would have been soon forgotten had you left both alone) and held the press conference. Had you listened to the Bears, had you maybe consulted the medical professionals and support team that I’m sure have helped you become an otherwise admirable guy these past few years, maybe you get some time to think this over, maybe you have some of the productive conversations you referenced needing to happen among us all.
“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,” you said. “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.”
And then you went and tried to win it. And you lost. And embarrassingly at that.
Sorry it wasn’t more about the good things you touched on. How you mentioned “(Domestic violence) is not a problem in the NFL – it’s an epidemic in our world. It’s not the NFL’s job to raise men. We’re kidding ourselves if we think it’s the NFL’s job to take boys from college and raise them to men. (Domestic violence) is a problem in our marriages, a problem in our communities, a problem in the way we coach children and parenting — that’s where it starts.
“Everything we’re doing with the NFL and everything we’re doing with our foundation, I’m not going to let that deter us and really hamper what we’re doing there.”
But you did Thursday.
Sorry that at no point did you apologize to anybody. Not to your employer and teammates for, even with good intentions, making a mess that won’t go away by today. Not to battlers of mental illness who have scratch their heads at what their hero is doing. Not to those who have worked with you and brought you literally and figuratively miles away from the literally (and on Thursday figuratively) dangerous Brandon Marshall of years past. Not to those of us who have stuck up for you. Not to all the victims of violence in the home that again had the focus shifted away from them.
Most of all, sorry you’re not sorry.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @TimBaffoe.