I'm pretty late to address the Chicago Bears' picking up Brandon Marshall, but fuck that, my blog, my time frame. You all are probably familiar with the story- the Bears picked up Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall in a trade with the Miami Dolphins. Marshall's had kind of a checkered personal life, including a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and some running conflicts with coaches and teams.
Then, it turns out, he was accused of hitting a woman at a club two days before his trade to the Bears. The news came out after the trade, and there wasn't a really solid explanation of how much the Bears knew about the incident. So the question became: If the Bears had known about it, would they have gone through with the trade?
And my response is: Why in god's name would they have stopped?
This is the post-Michael Vick NFL. Off-the-field misconduct is simply not a bar to entry anymore. If the misconduct is continuous, that might be a different story, but the players are going to be given plenty of opportunities to shape up. And if they fail to do so, it's going to be their failure; the team isn't going to be punished for it, and any ill-impressions will be forgotten with the next winning streak.
Now, the Bears took a risk with Marshall, but it's not really any greater than what they'd take with any other player. Because here's the thing: if Marshall performs, his sins will be forgotten. If he doesn't, they'll certainly be brought up, but it's all going to be a proxy for "He sucks on the field." If the Bears picked up Tebow (the new NFL shorthand for "choir boy") and he sucked, he'd get called out, too. And the complaints will go up the ladder to the Bears' front office, but understand that the real issue is on-the-field performance, not off-the-field misconduct. The fans, the league, and the culture are going to forgive a lot if you win.
This is certainly troubling, but I'm not sure how much. God knows I've talked shit about Ben Roethlisberger and Ray Lewis, but I do want to believe in the redemptive power of sports. I want to give players second chances. And if nothing else, that all jives with my idealistic notions of The Grand Meritocracy and "If You Can Play, You Can Play". For anecdotal evidence, I'd point to Michael Vick himself, y'know?
I'm sure there's a line players can cross. There is a point where a player has done too much, wasted too many chances, hurt too many people. If he wants to save his soul after that, I'm not in a place to stop him, but I can certainly feel uncomfortable if he uses MY favorite sports to do it.
But, I don't know where that line is. I don't know if Brandon Marshall has crossed it. And I DO know that if he has, the Bears aren't the ones who'll suffer if he can't be redeemed.