Testimony from Brandon Marshall could speak to his future with Broncos

Brandon Marshall took the stand yesterday in the Darrent Williams' murder trial and confidently pointed out the man he engaged with a confrontation with on New Year's Eve 2006, the night teammate and friend Darrent Williams was shot. 

"Is there any doubt in your mind that is that man?" prosecutor Tim Twining asked Marshall.

"That's the guy," Marshall said. "In that picture, in that video and at this table right here."

He was pointing to Willie Clark, the man prosecutors say shot Williams later that night following an altercation that Marshall admitted he helped escalate.

"I kind of got angry at the time and probably escalated the situation, but I got angry because it was New Year's and we were trying to have fun."

Marshall explains trying to get at Clark and Daniel Harris, who was with Clark at the bar, but he slipped in a snowbank. He admits Harris punched him in the face.  It was then, Marshall explains, that he got a bad feeling.

"The first thing I thought of is maybe they are running to go get a gun."

Marshall, and teammate Elvis Dumervil, left together.  They drove past Williams' rented Hummer Limo after dropping some friends off.  It was surrounded by police.  They thought of stopping, but did not.

Marshall then remembers the phone call he received a few minutes later telling him of Williams being shot and the trip to the hospital where he saw former teammate Javon Walker.

"It was just real quiet in the room and it was how he was looking at the chain, . . . and there was blood on the chain and blood all over JWalk and he wasn't really talking," Marshall said while crying on the stand. "He kept holding that chain and wouldn't let nobody touch that chain."

Marshall's testimony is the first he has made publicly about what happened that night.   His emotion on the stand shows that the events of 3 years ago still have a profound effect on him.  It may also go a long way to explain the reason Marshall wants out of Denver.  Humor me for a bit as I explain.

There are plenty of superficial reasons that could explain away why Brandon Marshall wants out of town - as has wanted out of town for awhile.  His contract is surely one.  His lack of trust in the team's medical staff resulting from the mis-diagnosis of a hip injury is another.  Some will say his on-again, off-again relationship with Josh McDaniels is part as well.  All are worthy explanations, and likely play a part.  For me, however, I have always seen this as something much deeper.  Sure, the reasons above are important - Marshall obviously wants to get paid - but there was always something underlying to me. 

Marshall is an emotional guy.  It makes him great on the field and gives him trouble off of it.  Emotion, in a lot of ways, has been the reason many of his run-ins with the law have happened.  Emotions were likely running high that night when Willie Clark decided pulling a gun was the only way to get his "respect" back.  It was also on full dispplay when Marshall, pulled over for erratic driving, screamed how much he hated Denver, berating the police for pulling him over instead of looking for Darrent's murderer.

"I hate Denver," Marshall said, as written by the arresting officer in the police report.

"I hope I get traded. I hate this (bleeping) city."

"Why aren't you guys looking for Williams' killer?" Marshall told the officer.


The big question now becomes, now that Marshall has relived the events of that night, what effect will it have on his future with the Broncos?  We'll likely find out in the next month or so.

I am of the opinion that from a football standpoint, the relationship between the Broncos and Marshall is very much salvageable.  I think Marshall and Josh McDaniels can co-exist and even flourish because they are very much alike.  Josh understands what makes Brandon tick because he has a similar makeup.  Harnessing that emotion is the key - and both men are still a work in progress.

Does Brandon Marshall want to be a Bronco, or more importantly, live and play in the City of Denver?  That is the underlying issue here and yesterday's testimony will bring it to the forefront.

Marshall's rehashing of the events, and the honest manner at which he admitted his involvement, can have two different impacts on all of this.

First, Marshall could be further tormented by the guilt he obviously feels.  It's not his fault - as his testimony clearly talks about - he tried to defuse the situation at a number of different points, first getting Clark into the bar that night, then offering to have Clark and his friend party along with Marshall and the people in the VIP area. He still feels the guilt, though, as many of us would.  The fact remains that Clark is an evil man and was going to cause trouble with Marshall, Williams and the rest of those in the group because he wanted to.  There was nothing Marshall could have done.

Those event, however, forced Javon Walker into a career tail-spin he hasn't been able to recover from.   Sure, Walker got hurt, but his unhappiness in Denver was clear from the interview on HBO during the summer of 2007.  Even then he was saying he didn't know if he wanted to stay in Denver.  Clearly talking about it didn't ease those feelings at all.

Marshall could go through the same feelings - with the trial bringing back all the negative feelings he has towards Denver and re-emphasizing his desire to leave.

There is another angle, however, one that I hope Marshall takes.  The trial, the testimony, and hopefully the justice that Marshall helps to see done, could have an emotional cleansing effect on Marshall.  Marshall has not spoken about the incident until yesterday - which had to be tough on him.  Now that it is all out in the open, Marshall should be able to begin the process of healing.

Should Clark be found guilty, some closure can be brought  to the family of Williams, the Broncos, and Brandon Marshall.  That, in turn, could help Marshall replace much of the negativity he harbors towards the City of Denver.  It would also put a dangerous criminal behind bars for a long time.

It took guts for Marshall to do what he did.  Just look at Clark's history to see why.  Scared witnesses that won't testify.  Alleged accomplices that are in jail on contempt charges because they refuse to testify.  A woman that was going to testify against Clark in another case gunned down on the street the day before she was to give testimony.  Stuff right out of the movies.  Could any of Marshall's angst towards Denver stem from fear?  If so, who could blame him.

I believe that the Denver Broncos would pay Brandon Marshall.  I believe that he could co-exist with Josh McDaniels.  I believe that he could thrive as a Bronco.  Deep down, however, Brandon Marshall has to want to live, and play, in Denver.  Does he?

The prevailing attitude is that the Broncos will look to trade Marshall in the coming months before the Draft.  Perhaps it will happen, and depending on how Marshall handles his account of the night Darrent Williams died, perhaps it is for the best.  The Broncos are surely watching, as we all are, to see.  Here's hoping no matter what happens with Marshall and the Broncos on the field that the man is able to find peace off of it.  I just hope that peace is found in the Broncos uniform.
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