Marshall’s sin? He broke the league-sanctioned dress code for October — pink, in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. He did this by wearing green cleats in honor of Mental Health Awareness Week (which was Oct. 6-12 this year).
It’s not a big deal unless you know that Marshall was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2011 and thought mental health deserved as much recognition as cancer.
He planned to match the fine and donate it to a mental health charity. The cleats were being auctioned off, with proceeds going to Marshall’s own foundation dedicated to mental health advocacy.
Breast cancer gets lots of publicity — they’ve been promoting awareness for several decades now — and mental health still is surrounded by stigma, still is a behind-closed-doors sort of thing. Not many people are willing to be open about being mentally ill. Marshall is. So why is he being punished for something as silly as wearing nonconforming cleats? It seems ironic that anyone would even notice them, in a sea of pink socks and towels and mouthguards and all the rest.
Borderline personality disorder overwhelmingly is diagnosed in women. It says a great deal that a macho football player was willing to own up to it and get treatment. Granted, his track record before the diagnosis was abysmal — domestic violence, drunk driving, and more — but obviously someone stepped in and suggested he take care of himself. Now, Marshall says he’s not managing it, he’s past it.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 8 in advance of the Thursday, Oct. 10 game, Marshall told the crowd that “the perception is I struggle, I’m on medication, I’m still in groups. It’s not that. I went through something, and it was tough. I went through a program and it was effective for me. So now I feel like I’m living a healthy, normal life. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I don’t think I’ll ever be. But I have the tools I need to cope with my emotions.”
While the above may be partly wishful thinking on Marshall’s part — borderline personality disorder is chronic — it does sound like he has learned a great deal in the last two years. Anyone who can take what he learned from his mistakes and become an advocate for others deserves applause, not a hit in the wallet.
Jahns, Adam L. Chicago Sun-Times, Oct. 8, 2013. Brandon Marshall planning to get fined Thursday for a good cause