FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - The words came from his heart and the intent was to inspire, even if the sincerity and the message was often lost on some of his teammates. That was the problem Brandon Marshall faced this season. He wanted to unite his teammates. He divided them instead.
It's not that the Jets' locker room problems were his fault -- not by a longshot -- but there's no doubt the veteran receiver was in the center of it for much of the miserable, 5-11 season.
As many teammates have said in the last few days, his sideline-to-locker room argument with Sheldon Richardson in Kansas City in Week 3 was the flashpoint for their discord. And the truth is, it might even go back to early August, when he and Darrelle Revis battled so hard at training camp they nearly got into an on-field fight.
Marshall, throughout his career, has been an in-your-face leader not afraid to speak his mind. Some have argued that's why he's on his fourth team in 11 seasons. But he remains unapologetic for his style, even though it clearly didn't work with these Jets.
"I think I did a great job this year," Marshall said in a mostly-empty Jets locker room on Monday morning. "Now in retrospect there may have been a time or two where, after games there's so much emotions, so if you approach a situation with calmness and a cool head, it doesn't mean the next man will. You've got to be able to not only understand where you're at, you've got understand where the next man's at.
"I think in retrospect I could work on my timing. But I'm totally fine with my approach this year. Like I said a couple of weeks ago, my only motive is to win ball games. I'm tired of watching the playoffs on my couch."
His frustration is certainly understandable, as is his desire to try to motivate his teammates. But this might have been the worst time to try to do it in a confrontational way. For one, this Jets team was coming off a 10-6 season and had high expectations. The veterans especially were stunned and crestfallen when things began to go horribly wrong.
Also, this wasn't Marshall's finest season. In fact, it was one of his worst. In 15 games, he caught 59 passes for 788 yards and three touchdowns, while dropping more than his share of catchable passes. And considering the offense was the biggest reason for the Jets' demise, especially early in the season, some defensive players really didn't want to hear it from someone who was underperforming on the offensive side of the ball.
That, according to one Jets source, was the biggest problem Richardson seemed to have with Marshall's outbursts. The source said it was at the heart of their Week 3 fight, and it certainly seemed to be an undercurrent to the problem some reportedly had with Marshall's fiery halftime speech during the Jets' blowout loss in New England on Christmas Eve.
Interestingly, though, Jets coach Todd Bowles didn't think Marshall took his frustrations too far. He admitted there were some issues with Marshall's approach, but insisted "his message is correct."
"I don't think he overstepped," Bowles said. "Brandon can be volatile at times, but his message is correct with what he is saying. He's a very passionate player. He cares a lot about it. He works his tail off to do that. He likes everybody to do that in the same fashion. Sometimes when you're losing, he gets a little frustrated and goes over, but his message was fine."
Marshall, meanwhile, downplayed the chemistry issues and the part he may have played in them. He said the fight he had with Richardson in Kansas City was "addressed" and certainly wasn't the reason the season went south for so many on the team.
"It doesn't come down to one moment," Marshall said. "That has nothing to do with production. The ball's thrown to me, I need to catch the ball."
Besides, Marshall said, losing often brings out the worst in even the most close-knit teams.
"Obviously when you win five games it's not where you want to be, so I think that is expected," he said. "You look at the Denver team, this was the Super Bowl champs last year. Two weeks ago they lost a big game and offense and defense was having a shouting match in the locker room. You look at Aaron Rodgers, before he made the prediction 'We're going to run the table.' There were reports of him and Coach McCarthy getting into it. You look at Richard Sherman. Great team, great organization, well coached, and Richard Sherman is saying things because they threw the ball instead of ran the ball.
"So these things happen. You've just got to be a man and be tough to take the criticism. It's one thing to sit back and lose. It's another to sit back and not speak up when you have an opportunity to speak up. I think everyone in this locker room's motive is to win. That's why we're here. Whatever it takes, you've got to do it. I think you've got to respect that."
And Marshall made it clear he will continue to do things his way -- whether he's back with the Jets next season or not. And he had no regrets about how he tried to lead his teammates, even if things didn't work out exactly how he hoped.
"If it didn't happen this way then you would have to question everybody in the organization," Marshall said. "Because I'm not OK with guys being OK with losing. The good, the bad and the ugly this year showed me and everyone else in this locker room that guys weren't OK with losing."