The stormy relationship between the Denver Broncos and receiver Brandon Marshall took a baffling and unexpected twist today, when Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said he was deactivating the Pro Bowl receiver for the season finale.
Marshall has a hamstring injury, but McDaniels made it clear that the injury was not the main factor in the deactivation. He repeatedly said that other players have more serious injuries than Marshall but will play on Sunday.
“There’s a number of factors that go into that, but there’s a lot of players that will play with things that are probably more difficult to play with than what he has,” McDaniels said. “Our word for the week has been accountability. We’re looking to put the 45 guys on the field on Sunday that want to play together, want to help us try to win and qualify for the playoffs. We talked about it as a squad on Wednesday that that’s what’s going to happen this week. Anybody that showed any indifference to that, we will play without them. And we’ll play well anyway.”
McDaniels told Marshall this morning in what appeared to be a brief conversation that he would be deactivated. Marshall and McDaniels said Marshall agreed with the decision and there was no further discussion. Other players in the locker room hadn’t even heard Marshall would not play Sunday, and Marshall seemed baffled that his accountability was brought into question by McDaniels during his press conference.
“I don’t understand why he didn’t answer it – it’s my hamstring,” Marshall said. “I got a MRI on it, the MRI came back that there was no structural damage in there, but when you try to explode and take off, if you don’t have it, you don’t have it.
Marshall pointed out that he has given maximum effort all season, so he was surprised to hear some of the cryptic comments from McDaniels when they were relayed to him.
“I mean, I don’t think coach played in the NFL, so for my hamstring to feel the way it feels, it’s tough for me to go out there and expect to play at a high level,” Marshall said.
Marshall said he didn’t think his toughness should be in question, and repeatedly brought up that he played last season with a hip injury. There was a rift between Marshall and the Broncos medical staff for what he believed was a misdiagnosis of the injury, which he had surgery on earlier this year. He brought up that a few times during today’s group interview at his locker.
Marshall is a free agent after this season, and the relationship between him and the team – which had settled down after Marshall was suspended for two preseason games for conduct detrimental to the team – appears to have taken a large step back with his deactivation.
“Teams win late in the year,” McDaniels said. “If you have players that aren’t going to put that ahead of everything else, then that can certainly be detrimental to your club.
“We’re all accountable to give our very best effort to Pat Bowlen, to this organization, to this city, to the people that support us, to each other – that’s what this is about.”