When Brandon Marshall proposed to long-time girlfriend Michi Nogami on Thursday night, Broncoland breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Is this the first step in becoming the mature, on and off the field leader that most of Denver has been longing for him to become?
His legal troubles are well documented. Arrested in college on charges of assaulting a police officer, a role in the events that led to the murder of Darrent Williams, accusations of domestic violence, as well as a DUI in 2007, Marshall has not exactly led a squeaky clean off the field life.
Despite his phenomenal on-field performance, including back to back 1,000 yard and 100 catch seasons, Marshall gained infamy last year when he fell through an entertainment center, causing severe muscle, tendon, and artery damage to his right arm.
As a result, he was suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for one game and fined two games pay checks. However, after making 18 catches for 166 yards on his return in week two against the San Diego Chargers, he was vaulted into the ranks of elite NFL receivers, something that was confirmed when he ended the season with 104 catches for 1,265 yards, seven touchdowns and his first Pro Bowl berth.
While his talent has never been in question, Broncos fans were silently starting to wonder if Brandon Marshall was doing more harm than good. After getting publicly criticized by quarterback and close-friend Jay Cutler following the "McDonald's bag incident", Marshall's problems seemed to have stopped.
He is an increasingly visible face of the Broncos, and his willingness to do interviews combined with a smile as wide as the Rockies, have made him a media favorite. He has often talked of becoming "a leader" for the Broncos, and has clearly embraced his role as a mentor for Eddie Royal.
Despite the occasional sign of immaturity, notably the glove incident in the Broncos Browns game back in November, Marshall appears to have left his past behind. Undoubtedly he has had a very testing three years, largely played out in the media spotlight.
In the next 12 months, Brandon Marshall is going to become a very wealthy man. The price tag for a receiver with his kind of production and potential is a steep one—upwards of $50 million is to be expected.
This is why Marshall's marriage could be the best thing that ever happened not only for him, but for the Denver Broncos. He spoke of his admiration for Peyton Manning and Troy Polamalu having seen them with their families at the Pro Bowl.
"You could see their peace. That's what's so important for me, is to have peace," he said following the announcement.
If he can settle down with a wife and a family, his off the field issues will likely stop. He has the ideal mentor in Rod Smith, a fanbase which clearly loves him, a young quarterback with whom he clearly has a great relationship, and one of the brightest offensive minds, Josh McDaniels, as his new coach.
So, congratulations Brandon Marshall. Let's hope that this can lead to a greater maturity to go with your prodigious talent. If you can settle down, leave your past behind and go on to become a leader and a role-model, you'll bring huge success to the Denver Broncos and become a legend.
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