Forgetting Brandon Marshall

Denver needed to win in Week 17 in order to even have a shot of making the playoffs. In turns out it wouldn't have mattered if they won or loss, but head coach Josh McDaniels didn't know that at the time. So in a crucial game for Denver what do they do? They bench there best offensive player- WR Brandon Marshall. Apparently Marshall had a "disagreement" with McDaniels (although I am assuming it didn't escalate to Gilbert Arenas territory), so McDaniels benched his star player. This is not a new phenomenon-a coach benching his star player after an off field discretions. During the very first college football game of the year, Oregon RB LeGarrett Blount did his best Flozell Adams impressions and punched a Boise State opponent because the Boise State players seemed to be talking shit to Blount after the Boise State win. Blount was then suspended for the entire year by the school, and by the entire year I mean half a season because the school realized it was much harder to make it to the Rose Bowl without him. But this got me thinking, should coaches bench their star player for discretion like these? It helps to teach athletes discipline and respect, but should it be done at the cost of the team as a whole?

We as a society put a huge value on recreation and sports. It's because of this that this question should even be posed. Because in any other instance, the answer is a clear and definite, "Yes, the person who did something wrong needs to be punished for his actions". When a student severely misbehaves in class, he will get a detention. If his misconduct is severe enough, he will get suspended or expelled. Getting an education should be a high value for us in society and thus, even though the student did something wrong, it seems the student still should be able to get an education- yet sometimes the child does not. Occasionally we see a Ryan Perrilloux- a great talent for LSU who would have been the school's starter had it not been for the multiple multiple indiscretions and illegal activity he did while at the school- but instances like this seem to be rare. NFL commissioner Roger Goddell also takes this approach. In society, if you do something wrong, you get punished. As an NFL player, if you do something wrong, you will get suspended. Logic and our society as whole seems to dictate to us that if you do a bad action, you will receive a consequence for that action- so sports should be no exception.

On the other hand, sports and recreation are held to different standards in our society. It's a sad truth, but a truth nonetheless. If I were a Broncos fan, I would be PISSED that Marshall didn't play in last Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. For all you readers who think this counterargument is a dumb one, put yourself in the shoes of a Denver fan, or imagine if the best player on your favorite team was benched during a crucial game for your team? Objectively you would say the player should be punished, but subjectively, I bet you would want that player to play to help your team win (although you may not want to admit it). And players like Perrilloux or Marshall won't change. Part of the purpose of punishment like these is to deter future action. LSU cutting Perrilloux and forcing the QB to play at some shit school still hasn't stopped him from doing bad and dumb things. Chris Henry was cut by the Bengals for his off-the-field actions. But a year later the team re-signed him. Then a few years later, he ended up dying-seemingly from the same actions that cut him suspended to begin with. Brandon Marshall has always been a troublemaker for the Broncos. And I'm not even going to get into Pacman Jones. So by suspending players like Marshall for a crucial game, all you're doing is just hurting your team. You're not teaching the player any lessons, but you are putting an inferior product on the field.

So where do I stand on this? I don't know. I, like I'm sure the vast majority of people, still feel a need for a player to be punished and showed a lesson. I'm just not sure benching a player is the way to do it. I'm sure whatever Marshall did, he deserved to be benched. In football, the head coach needs to be in control and have control over his entire team. I'm sure Marshall threatened this much needed power structure and McDaniels then benched him. But I'm just not 100% that benching a player is the way to do it. Of course with guys like Perrilloux, Blount, and Ron Artest- you do physically hurt someone or do something illegal- then you deserve to get benched or suspended. But when you do something like what Marshall did, I'm not so sure McDaniels made the right decision. I feel there are other punishments that could have been just as effective, like fining Marshall, that would punish your player yet not hurt your team.

And yes, I did write an entire blog post based solely around a creative title I thought of.