Brandon Marshall believes he still has some good years of football left:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –Brandon Marshall had an unproductive 2017 season that was abbreviated because of an injury that required surgery. He will be 34 years old when the 2018 season begins. But that hasn't diminished his desire to continue playing.
That was one of Marshall's central messages today in his first extensive public comments since suffering a season-ending ankle injury vs. the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 8.
"I'm all in on football, I've rebuilt my body," said Marshall, who has been working out regularly at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. "I think I'm two great years away from, and I'll say it, I want to be a Hall of Famer. I think I got two great years to go to be mentioned with some of the greats. I'm not playing this game just to be a guy. I want to be remembered for the product that I put out on the field. So these last few years have been tough, last year with the Jets, this year with the Giants. But I'm hopeful that the next couple years for me will be some amazing years and some of my best work."
Marshall had never played fewer than 13 games in any of his first 11 NFL seasons, with Denver, Miami, Chicago, and the Jets. This year, he made his final appearance in Game 5. Marshall said he is improving physically, and isn't looking too far down the road.
"I only need a couple more years so I'm not really concerned about long term," he said. "As long as it can give me two-three more years, I'll be perfectly fine and I think I will be. I really took this time to work on all the little things that we kind of neglect as we become pros, get back to those college workouts. So my focus since a week after my surgery has been living in the weight room and rebuilding myself to come back stronger, faster, more explosive, healthier. I haven't just been working on my ankle and my toe, I've been working on pretty much everything in my body. When you get older it takes a while for things to get going and fire, things deactivate so you spend a lot of those times working on those secondary muscles. So I'm really excited about this offseason because I really spent the last two months priming myself and getting myself ready. So I should be running, I'm already kind of running now, but really out there running with no restrictions in a couple of weeks."
Whether Marshall returns for a second Giants season is one of the numerous questions surrounding the team that can't be answered now. The franchise will have a new general manager (Dave Gettleman) and coach. The roster is expected to undergo a major restructuring.
Marshall has been in the league long enough to know some decisions aren't his to make.
"You know how it is, you get to the plus side of 30, a production slip, you get injured, the business side of it, history says that you're going to get cut or they are going to ask you to take a pay cut," he said. "That's the business side of it, that's history. So I'm prepared for that, I've had a lot of change in my life, but one of the reasons why I came to this organization was for stability and also not to be an environment that we created this year, right? So I was looking for more stability, but I'm built for this and I'll learn from it."
Marshall is one of the most productive receivers in NFL history. His 959 catches place him 16th on the league's career list, and his 12,215 yards rank 23rd.
The Giants signed him as a free agent last March hoping he would team with Odell Beckham, Jr. and Sterling Shepard to give Eli Manning a prolific trio of receivers who would help make the Giants Super Bowl contenders. But all three of those wideouts – plus Dwayne Harris – were injured in that loss to the Chargers. Only Shepard returned to the field.
Marshall's totals for the year were 18 catches for 154 yards, an 8.6-yard average.
"I think I've grown a lot through this season being on the other side of it," Marshall said. "Adversity, it reveals who you are and we hear this quote so many times, but it's so true, it reveals who you are. But it's the perfect opportunity for you to see that and then make changes. That's the unique things about football. You come in a boy, you start playing the game as a boy and if you stick around long enough, you become a man. So you learn a lot through these type of times, but it's really hard to get through them."
But Marshall is determined to keep plugging along and enhance what he hopes will be a Hall of Fame resume.
*Geno Smith's first and perhaps only season with the Giants will end with him playing in just one game. On Dec. 3, he started at quarterback and played the entire game in the Giants' 24-17 loss to the Raiders in Oakland. Smith has been Eli Manning' backup in every other game. On Sunday, he is expected to be deactivated in the season finale vs. Washington. Rookie Davis Webb will be the No. 2 quarterback.
Smith said today he has no regrets about joining the Giants as a free agent.
"I'm definitely happy (with the decision)," Smith said. "Things haven't exactly turned out the way that we envisioned as a team, but there's still a lot to be gained. There's a lot that everybody can learn from our season. Like I said before, just seeing how No. 10 (Manning) has handled all of this with so much grace and so much class, that's something that you can take from it. Because you look at a guy with his resume and he's got every bit of right to kind of be (ticked) off (because his 210-game starting streak ended). But he's handled it in such a way that you can respect him for it, and you can learn from it."
*Interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo commented for the first time on Eli Apple, the second-year cornerback who was suspended yesterday for the season's final week without pay for comment detrimental to the team. Spagnuolo did not go into details about the reasons for the suspension.
"The bottom line is we had to do this," Spagnuolo said. "Nobody feels good about it. My hope is that something positive comes out of it. That's my hope. I really hope that and I believe there are times when it does work out that way."
*The Giants' injury report did not change. Four players did not practice: tight end Evan Engram (rib), wide receivers Sterling Shepard (neck) and Tavarres King (concussion), and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (finger).
Four players were limited: tackles Ereck Flowers (groin) and Bobby Hart (ankle), wide receiver Roger Lewis (ankle), and defensive end Avery Moss (hip).