That said, I recognize and respect good football teams regardless of where they play or which players they have playing for them. I loathed Jim McMahon and the ’85 Bears with all of my being—but I respected the hell out of what they accomplished that year and the incredibly suffocating style of defensive football they played.
Heck, I even enjoyed watching Walter Payton—when he wasn’t making the Packers defense look downright foolish. (Newsflash: They didn’t really need help from Sweetness in that regard.)
Fast forward to the present day—while still no fan of that team in the Windy City, I was quietly impressed by the football the Bears were playing last year—that is, before the injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte completely shut them down. Cutler in particular was playing inspired ball, and doing so behind suspect offensive line.
Jerry Angelo paid for the Bears, crashing and burning with his job. Enter Phil Emery as the new general manager of the Chicago Bears. The wrongs of the past would be righted, the Bears would shore up their soft spots, the team would regroup and order would be restored.
Then came this past Tuesday, the first day of the new league year—which saw the Bears make a move that, if not highly questionable, was at the very least “in keeping with the team’s history of eye-rolling goofiness,” as Rick Morrisey of the Chicago Sun-Times aptly put it.
As we all know by now, the Bears traded for oft-troubled wide receiver Brandon Marshall, an ex-teammate of Cutler’s in Denver, for two third-round picks. (It probably didn't hurt Marshall's cause that Jeremy Bates, the Bears new quarterbacks coach, worked with both Marshall and Cutler in Denver)
What came to light sometime later that day, that Marshall had allegedly punched a woman in the face after an altercation outside a New York nightclub only two nights before, was shocking enough. To find out from the Bears that they supposedly knew about the incident and went ahead with the trade anyway, borders on unbelievable.
If we are to take Emery and the Bears at their word, it illustrates one of two possible things (actually, it may illustrate both)
Either the Bears are so desperate for a wide receiver for Cutler to throw to that they are willing to overlook almost anything, including Marshall’s long, problematic history off the field.
The Bears are desperate for help at the wide receiver position in general, and in particular due to the devastating injury suffered by Johnny Knox at the end of the year.
Or, as I said, it could be both.
This isn’t to say that when he’s on the field Marshall doesn’t perform or that he can’t help the Bears. He can. More than anything he gives Cutler a big body to throw to in the red zone, something the Bears didn’t do with great success under former offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
But the Bears are giving up valuable draft picks, which is the currency a new general manager should be using to build his team. He should not be throwing them away on a player whose past includes an incident where his wife was accused of stabbing him, an altercation in a nightclub just before a teammate was shot, roughly a dozen encounters with police and now this latest episode two days before the Bears traded for him.
Marshall may have some productive years in Chicago, but make no mistake. This is a desperate move and one that didn’t need to be made by a general manager who has barely dipped his toe in the waters of running his own NFL team.