Brandon Marshall has been sending out so many mixed signals about potentially signing a new contract with the Broncos that even he probably doesn't know what he wants at this point.
Note that during Pro Bowl week, he declared his love for Denver -- but upon being busted for drunk driving in 2007, he declared, "I hate Denver. I hope I get traded. I hate this fucking city."
Add to this a new theory courtesy of the Denver Post's Mike Klis: The "unspoken, but monumental" reason Marshall hasn't re-upped yet is the Darrent Williams murder -- the subject of a spectacular trial that's just about to get underway at which Marshall is expected to testify.
To which I call bullshit.
That's not to say I doubt Marshall was freaked out by his proximity to this unbelievably senseless crime, which took place early on New Year's Day 2007. Anyone would be. But there's not the slightest evidence this incident has played a major part in his decision-making process, even from Klis, who admits that he's never discussed the terrible night with Marshall.
So what's his evidence? Here's how he lays it out:
I have spoken to several people close to Marshall, and they all say Williams' murder continues to torment him.
Besides lasting grief, he has endured guilt, even though he wasn't in Williams' limousine that had driven away just a few short blocks from the nightclub when it became riddled with bullets. The killing left Marshall frightened, which may explain why he has never spoken about that night publicly, at least not knowingly.
After that, Klis notes the aforementioned drunk-driving arrest, focusing on another question Marshall asked at the scene: "Why aren't you guys looking for Williams's killer?"
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To Klis, apparently, this line is a clue to Marshall's psyche. But it's just as likely to have been a cry of frustration for getting busted -- as in, "Why aren't you guys looking for Williams's killer instead of arresting me for being blotto when I haven't run over anyone -- yet."
Unless Klis has other information that he's not sharing with readers, he's engaging in the baldest sort of speculation in order to connect dots that could well be totally unrelated. And his rationale for drawing a line between these two seems extraordinarily tenuous.
Yes, testifying in Williams's murder trial will be enormously difficult and unpleasant if Marshall is asked to do so. But to say he doesn't want to play in Denver as a result ignores all the other incidents that have taken place between now and then -- the accusations of abuse of which he was ultimately found not guilty, his injury and the matter of whether it grew worse because of the Broncos' actions, the NFL and team suspensions, the tension between him and Coach Josh McDaniels.
There will be no reason to believe the killing was a significant factor in Marshall's decision to stick with the Broncos or not until he says it himself -- and maybe not even then.