By Mike Davis
Co-Host, The Dale Jr. Download
News flash. Our guest this week on The Dale Jr. Download isn't a driver. Nor is he a crew chief, crew member, industry executive, track promotor, racing broadcaster, Earnhardt family member or Dale Sr. hunting buddy. No, our guest this week is Brandon Marshall. He is an All-Pro wide receiver in the National Football League. I say is because he hasn't submitted his official retirement paperwork yet. More on that in a bit.
Marshall's appearance was widely anticipated by Dale Jr., and not just because he is an avid football fan. There is immense value in hearing perspective from those outside our little racing bubble -- perspective, say, on whether racecar drivers are athletes. Sure, you've heard that debate your whole life, but how many times from a well-informed, world-class athlete? You see, at about the time you're reading this Brandon will be strapped inside a racecar with Dale Jr. at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He's about to feel what four laps at 165 mph will do to a body. Once Brandon gets his ride, Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson, Fred Taylor, and Channing Crowder will get their turns. Crowder believes a racecar driver is many things, but an athlete isn't one of them.
Back to Brandon Marshall. This fella has lived a life, man, and not all of it roses. While he was lighting it up on the field after coming into the league in 2006, a series of off-the-field troubles took a toll on him personally. Eventually he sought help. If you know much about Dale Jr.'s concussion story, you know how unusual that is. Athletes don't easily admit the need for assistance. Brandon eventually did. He spent three months at McLean Hospital and was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. It changed his life.
Dale couldn't wait to talk about this. He wanted to compare notes. Sure, Borderline Personality Disorder and concussions are two different things, but both have significant mental health implications. What's more, they require courage, vulnerability and accountability to begin healing. Deep down pro athletes may possess all three, but it takes an act of God to draw them out.
Other things we wanted to know from Brandon, whose nickname is "Beast":
Why are wide receivers the biggest trash talkers on the field? (Hint, they're not, as we learned.)
Explain the psychological warfare that goes on between a wide receiver and a defensive back when at the line of scrimmage?
Is the criticism Jay Cutler receives fair or unfair?
Have rules designed to decrease head impacts in the NFL and college game made football too soft?
What is the biggest mistake young football players make when coming into the league?
Explain the origins for your sensational podcast, I Am Athlete, and where does it go from here?
Why are you so interested in NASCAR?
And then there is this: Are athletes prepared to face the music when it's time to call it quits? It has been our observation that most are not, and the lack of identity in a post-playing life often leads to family troubles, depression, and years of hurt. Brandon's own story makes him an intriguing one to ask. Despite being a six-time Pro Bowler with Hall-of-Fame-worthy credentials and the record-holder for receptions in a game (21 vs. the Colts in 2009), Brandon's career ended rather abruptly. He went to Seattle in 2018 anticipating a switch to tight end, which by his estimation would've prolonged his career a few more years. But when the Seahawks lost one of its wideouts to injury, Marshall's services were needed on the receiving corps. When he, himself, became injured, he was cut from the team.
Just like that it was over.
"Well, you know the Washington Football Team needs a tight end," said Dale Jr. "I'm just saying they could use one."
All eyes turned to Marshall, who had already admitted he hadn't actually completed the formal process in which retirement becomes official.
Episode 336 of The Dale Jr. Download podcast drops soon and is available to everyone.
-- Dirty Mo Media --