“I talked to Brandon,” Marshall told Linda Cohn on her Listen Closely program. “He reached out to me yesterday, and he didn’t understand my comments. And I just tried to express to him how I felt: that one, I don’t understand why he would hurt himself physically and financially, and two, I just explained to him that we’ve got to accept the game for what it is. When you look at his history, there’s a pattern there. So whatever needs to happen for him to get it, I think needs to happen, so he can protect his pockets, and also protect himself.
“Because a few weeks ago against the Packers, he knocked himself out of the game, and it was scary to see on film,” Marshall continued. “We’re sitting there watching it while we were game-planning, and it’s just shocking to see him laying out like that. It just doesn’t make any sense for him to continue to put himself in that position, not only to hurt other guys but to hurt himself.”
Cohn then asked whether Meriweather had understood Marshall’s message.
“You know what, I may have to go through my text messages again,” the receiver said. “I was just trying to express to him that hey, I don’t have anything against you. And actually we played ball in the same neighborhood, in the same area in Orlando. We’ve always been friends, you could say. And for me, I was just trying to express to him that I want him to get it. But I don’t know if he got it, to be honest. It seemed like he was more concerned about being suspended and losing some money, when I was just trying to explain to him forget that, let’s talk about life, let’s talk about life after football, being able to function, and trying to express to him that you’re hurting yourself too, physically.”
Marshall also knows that some fans and players don’t agree with his stance, and think that modern players are soft and coddled, that the modern game isn’t as tough as it once was.
“You know what, the game has changed. And we just have to deal with it,” Marshall said. “We didn’t play in the ’40s and the ’50s, when the game was definitely more violent. But we grew up playing a hard-nosed game when we were children, so we got the brunt of some of that stuff. So I get it. I can understand how some of these guys could be frustrated, because they played the game that way their whole life, and now all of the sudden you’re asking guys to do something totally different. But when you look at it, there’s rules in place. They’re there for a valid reason.
“So there’s two parts to it,” Marshall said. “One, the financial part. You’ve got to be smart. Why would you continue to do that knowing that you’re going to get fined? The NFL is looking for the next guy. So when you’re out of a lot of money, when you’re done playing ball you’re gonna look back and say, man, I shouldn’t have done that. But you’re so caught up in the moment right now that it’s like, oh, I want to be this tough guy and have something to prove, when in reality you’re hurting yourself.
“And the second part to it is that there is life after football, literally,” Marshall continued. “Why would you go out there and not only hurt yourself, but possibly hurt someone to a point where they could no longer function? It makes no sense. And I commend the NFL for their efforts to really take the head out of the game. People can complain all they want that it’s a softer NFL and it’s not the same, but it’s a change for the better.”
As for the hit itself, Marshall said he was still feeling the effects.
“It’s a part of the game, but I really feel like I was in a car accident,” he said. “He got me pretty good. So everywhere from my throat to my wrist, some other stuff is a little sore. But it’s part of the game.”