This week’s Thursday Night game had the Chicago Bears (3-2) facing off against the winless New York Giants. After losing two in a row following a strong 3-0 start, the Bears needed a solid win in order to get back on track as the NFC North is shaping up to be a tough division. And win they did, one that saw Eli Manning throw three interceptions, two of which went to Tim Jennings including a pick six, as well a solid showing by Jay Cutler and his number one receiver, Brandon Marshall. As much as I enjoyed Marshall’s nine receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns, except on a fantasy football level since this week’s foe (my middle sister, Denise) has Marshall on her team; what I really loved were his bright green shoes! Yes, his shoes.
It is worth mentioning that I do not usually notice what the players are wearing, the exception being the pink apparel each October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it was pretty hard to miss these shoes. In case anyone somehow missed the bright alien looking things on his feet, Brad Nessler explained that Marshall was ready for the fine that would be forthcoming from the NFL, but also assured everyone that it was for a good cause. This comment was immediately followed by a cliffhanger commercial break and an anti-climactic kick-off to the Giants (it was kneeled down in the end zone for a touchback) before they came back to the story.
Following suit, I will take this moment to explain that October 6-13 is National Mental Illness Awareness Week. In my “non-sports fan life”, my job is working in mental health administration so I am keenly aware of both the importance of seeking help and treatment for any type of mental health concern, as well as the unfortunate negative stigma that is still attached to such afflictions. Another key aspect to the story of the shoes is in July, 2011 Brandon Marshall went public with the news that he had been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Since that time Marshall has been very vocal about the diagnosis, the disease itself, and the positive impact that treatment has made in his life both personally and professionally.
The Brandon Marshall Project Borderline was created as on offshoot to the Brandon Marshall Foundation. PROJECT BORDERLINE is a nonprofit organization devoted to raising awareness for Borderline Personality Disorder and helping others gain access to the resources that they need to recover. Our mission is to:
•SPREAD THE WORD about BPD, a serious illness that affects a significant percentage of the population
•FIGHT STIGMA that for so long has been unfairly tied to this diagnosis
•EDUCATE people so they know the facts of the disorder, which is very treatable and has a favorable long-term prognosis
•ADVOCATE for the passage of legislation to support our cause
•REACH OUT to those who may not know what they’re suffering from or may not know what resources are available to help them
•BRIDGE THE GAP between patients, clinicians, and the public, and
•CHANGE the face and the future of this disorder so that those who have suffered in silence, who spent years of their lives feeling trapped by their own emotions, and who once thought that they had reached a place beyond hope will have the opportunity to build a better life for themselves.
The project’s website also provides an Introduction to BPD, “BPD can hinder an individual’s attempt to function at even the most basic levels, while also negatively impacting friends and family members of the person suffering from it.”
Now back to Brad Nessler’s commentary. As had already been mentioned Brandon Marshall was expecting a fine for going against the NFL’s dress code policy, but in addition to paying the fine Marshall is going to match it through a donation to his own charity, as well as one working toward a cure for breast cancer. He wants to split it because both mental illness and cancer diagnoses can seriously impact individuals and their families. See I told you it was for a good cause!
I found it heart-warming and refreshing that an athlete who pre-diagnosis was known for extremely erratic behavior, both on and off the field, is now making such a positive impact to try to help others afflicted with such a difficult disorder. Perhaps this is a strong, albeit neon green, step toward breaking the negative stigma associated with Mental Illness.
Next week, bring on the Washington Redskins, in what should be a “win-able” game so that the Bears can go into their bye week sitting strong at 6-2.