Newly acquired New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall is about as well-traveled as any star player in the NFL. Since his 2006 rookie year, the 31-year-old has made stops in Denver, Miami, Chicago, and now New York. Incredibly consistent throughout his career, and a five-time Pro Bowler, Marshall has Jets fans thinking big this season and rightfully so; the game-breaking receiver is the type of player the Jets have been missing since Braylon Edwards last big year in 2010.
Marshall found himself in Long Island City, New York, earlier this week for an Under Armour photoshoot for the brand’s upcoming campaign featuring Marshall. Following the shoot, Marshall sat down with us to talk Under Armour, the upcoming season, living in different cities over the course of his career, and much more.
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You signed with Under Armour last summer. What about their brand and gear attracted you to them?
Number one, their values and what they stood for. When you look at Under Armour and the foundation and core of who they are, it’s pretty much who I am. They’re based in Baltimore, a blue-collar city; I’m from Pittsburgh, a blue-collar city. When you go back and think of the first Under Armour commercial, what do you remember?
Was it Ray Lewis?
No, it wasn’t Ray Lewis, it was a guy named Eric. He was like, “Grrr, you must protect this house!” That intensity. And that’s who I am on the field, in philanthropy, in business. It was a perfect connection for what I wanted to do outside of football. Now, the football stuff is easy and we all know that being a brand ambassador. But who I am and what I stand for is who they are and what they stand for.
You’re a guy who’s been known for rocking some dope colorways in your cleats on the field. You had those green ones a few years back that got a lot of attention. Do you have a favorite?
Man, I’ve worn so many. Like every week, I’m wearing something different. I’ll tell you this, the lime green Under Armour joints I’m gonna wear this year are going to be off the chain.
Will those have anything to do with your Project375 Foundation?
Yes, it does. I’m going to wear them only once this season but I am promoting Project375 and mental health awareness everyday.
With the NFL’s strict uniform policy, are cleats a way for you and other guys in the league to express yourselves?
Yeah, I have a lot of cool things with Under Armour coming up this year and I’ve done a lot of cool things in the past. From patent leather to custom alligator print, lime green, highlighter colors. I’ve done so much with my cleats.
What does your sneaker closet look like, are you a big sneakerhead?
I’m not, the shoes that I do wear are cross-training shoes and running shoes. I wear those every single day so Under Armour is perfect for that. I think they’re crushing it right now when it comes to performance and now the cool factor. Some brands have the cool factor but don’t have the performance and others have the performance but don’t have the cool factor. That’s what I wear but a lot of times I’m in suits and dressed up trying to be a cool guy (laughs).
UA is always saying things like “Earn Your Armor” and “It’s How You Start and Finish.” What do those things mean to you on the field?
There’s a lot of synergy there because that’s the approach I’ve had my whole life. I start one way and I finish the same way and that’s giving it my all. Whether that’s in sport or in life. I’m 100 percent in and you can see that in my approach on the football field and in my passion. I love what I do and I feel like if you want to be great you have to be all in and you have to give it your all every single day, even when you’re not at your best. I don’t think everyone is going to be killing it every single day because we’re human but if you’re best that day is 90 percent because you may be under the weather or you may have a little injury, you need to tap into the full potential of that day.
Who are some of the toughest cornerbacks or defensive backs you’ve gone up against?
I’ll just name a couple: Number one would be Champ Bailey and Darrelle Revis. Number two would be Al Harris when he was with the Green Bay Packers. I’ll put Antonio Cromartie in my top five. And there’s a young kid in Chicago, Kyle Fuller, who I’ll put up there, too.
What makes those guys so hard to go up against? Is it their physicality or attention to detail?
All of them are super-duper smart and students of the game. They probably watch more film than coaches. They know all of your tendencies and on top of that, they have all the ability in the world. They are athletic, they get in and out of their breaks and all of them, if the ball touches their hands, it’s going to stick.
You’ll probably be going up against Revis a lot in practice now. Are you excited for that?
You had a rough year in terms of injuries last year. Was that the toughest year of your career?
It was two injuries that held me back: my ankle and, at the end of the year, I had a rib. The tough part about it is when you have to miss time. Everyone in the NFL has something going on with them and what separates you from everyone else is being able to play through that stuff when you can and be productive but some things just sideline you. Injuries that I had last year, the ankle injury was supposed to sideline me but I fought through it and I tried to get on the field and help my team but at the end of the season I couldn’t do it with the broken ribs and the collapsed lung.
Did you ever get down on yourself? Was it frustrating?
The whole year was frustrating, man. I always look at the opportunities and challenge in every situation. Last year I learned so much about myself, I learned so much about the game, I learned so much about adversity and so much about people. I’m really appreciative of last year, it was probably one of the best years in my career because of what it did for me as a person.
Will that carry over to this year? Injuries notwithstanding…
All those thing I learned last year I’m applying as we speak. I started applying those things in my marriage; I started applying those things in my career; I started applying those things in business. I learned so much. It was a very fruitful year.
Living in the New York area and comparing it to Denver, Florida, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and all the other places you have lived, what’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed so far? NYC is a huge cultural center. Are you getting out to a lot plays, movies, concerts?
I’ve probably been traveling to New York for about 6-7 years now so I’m really familiar with the area. What I really love about NYC is the culture but also there’s a lot of everything to do. Everything from fashion, if that’s your taste, food, plays, different music, art, everything is there–you have the best museums and parks in the world. What I really love about New York is it’s never boring.
Were there times in other places where you felt bored?
Denver was a culture shock. Denver is a place where you go with a family. It was tough for me when I first got drafted as a young black kid moving to an area that only has five percent minorities. It was tough. I started to appreciate it my last year, the mountains are beautiful and so powerful. It’s serene.
Do you miss it at all?
I do, but I go back all the time. I love Denver.
Have you gotten a chance to interact with the Jets fanbase at all?
Not yet, not too much.
Are you looking forward to it? They have a lot of diehard fans…
I am, I’m looking forward to building relationships with my teammates and guys in the building and going out there and playing my best. I think this fanbase deserves a winner and I’m going to do my best to make that happen.
Was there a Champs Sports you went to often as a kid to get sneakers or clothes? Do you have any stories or memories of sneakers you copped there?
I was probably in the sixth or seventh grade and the Grant Hill FILAs came out. Aw man, I had to have them! I remember dragging my dad to Champs Sports to get the Grant Hills.
You’re known as a pretty stylish guy and we already talked about the flair for dope cleats. Now you’re in the fashion capital. Do you think you’ll get involved in the fashion scene at all?
No, not really. My main priorities are football and business, that’s it. And a little bit of TV. I’m on Showtime now, it’s great, man. I’m learning so much about the business side and things that happen behind the camera and what it takes to put on something live or taped and I’m also learning a lot as far as being on television and on camera. It’s a skill you have to get, it’s an interesting process.
Are you interested in getting involved in producing?
No, just trying to focus on getting that skill of being on-camera.
A lot of people are excited for the season to start, new schedules just came out. What are you most excited for?
I saw the schedule and Chicago isn’t on it, so that sucks. I’m excited to play Miami again but it sucks that I won’t be playing in Miami because we’ll be playing our away game in London. Denver isn’t there, either.
Have you been to London before?
I’ve been there but have never played there. It’s going to be cool.
Are you excited to get involved in the Pats-Jets rivalry?
I just want to win, man. Whatever it takes to get to the big dance and whoever’s in the way, I’ll embrace it.
How good can the Jets be this year?
Every team has a chance at this point. On paper every team feels like they made the right moves in free agency and at the draft. Every team feels like they picked up that person they were missing the year before. Everyone feels like they’re right there. That’s the great thing about football; when it’s a new season it gives new hope. We have a lot of hope, we feel like we picked up the right people, now it’s about chemistry. If we can all come together, I feel like we’ll be in every football game.
Follow Peter on Twitter at @Peter_M_Walsh