While he might not have gotten the hype of Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson/Ochocinco, Brandon Marshall had an impressive career. The wide receiver never made the playoffs, but that didn’t stop him from finding professional success; he spent 13 seasons in the league, earning $80 million and piling up plenty of individual honors. Despite that reality, though, he didn’t feel comfortable taking a knee with Colin Kaepernick.
Brandon Marshall was still in the NFL during the 2016 season, but he never joined the San Francisco 49ers quarterback in protest. Several years have passed, but the wideout hasn’t forgotten his failure to act.
Brandon Marshall’s impressive NFL career
For better or worse, most professional athletes are judged by what they accomplish in the playoffs. Brandon Marshall never qualified for postseason play, but he still posted an impressive NFL career.
Marshall played his college ball at the University of Central Florida and burst onto the national scene with a massive senior season. That offensive explosion was enough to impress the Denver Broncos, and the selected the receiver in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL draft. He spent the first five seasons of his professional career in Colorado, blossoming into one of the sport’s top receiving threats.
The Broncos, however, traded Marshall to Miami in 2010; he spent two seasons with the Dolphins before they shipped him north to the Chicago Bears. The receiver also spent time with the Jets, Giants, and Seahawks before calling it a career.
In all, Marshall spent 13 seasons in the pros; he played in 179 total games, pulling in 970 receptions for 12,351 yards and 83 touchdowns.
$80 million can’t make up for failing to kneel with Colin Kaepernick
Based on Spotrac’s contract data, Brandon Marshall made just over $80 million during his professional career. His NFL paycheck, however, was too precious for the receiver to take part in Colin Kaepernick’s protests.
“The first thing that came to my mind, and I’m just being honest, was, ‘I got a mom that don’t work. I got a sister with four kids that don’t work and I’ve been taking care of for 10 years. If I take this knee, what will happen?’” he admitted on the I Am Athlete podcast, according to The Root. “And I remember feeling so broken and so hurt that that was the first thing that hit my mind. ‘Do I kneel for the entire community, or do I stand for my mom, my brother, my sister?”
While that thought process is completely understandable—and underscores Kaepernick’s professional sacrifice—Marshall wishes that joined in the protest.
“And looking back on it, I am ashamed that I didn’t take that knee,” he continued. “But I am so excited now about with the video that just came out with the NFL players because now I feel like they don’t have to make that decision. They don’t have to think about that anymore. If they want to take a knee, you think Nike’s going to drop them?”
Brandon Marshall didn’t kneel, but he did attempt to make a political statement in 2008
As mentioned above, Brandon Marshall didn’t take a knee with Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 season. He did attempt to make a political statement in 2008, however, but a teammate intervened.
As recorded in a Bleacher Report post from the time, Marshall planned to don a “half black, half white glove” after scoring a touchdown. The gesture would have been “dedicated to President-elect Barack Obama and would have been a throwback to the celebration of two American sprinters [Tommie Smith and John Carlos] in the 1968 Olympics.”
Brandon Stokley convinced Marshall to shelf the celebration, though. At the time, the Broncos were mounting a comeback against the Cleveland Browns—Marshall’s touchdown proved to be the game-winning score—and using a prop to celebrate could have resulted in a back-breaking 15-yard penalty.