In our Broncos Legends series, we're revisiting the careers of some of the best players in franchise history with video highlights and rarely seen photos — and they'll join us to break down their favorite moments as a Bronco and more. Here's a refresher on wide receiver Brandon Marshall's time in Denver.
It didn't take long for Brandon Marshall, a fourth-round pick by the Broncos in the 2006 NFL Draft, to draw interest for his potential. With a 6-foot-4, 222-pound frame as a rookie, Marshall had size and speed that made him a unique prospect.
Only a preseason knee injury prevented him from making an immediate impact. But as he progressed toward the end of that first season, it became apparent just what he could become. As Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey said in a December 2006 Rocky Mountain News article, "[He] has the tools to be a Pro Bowl receiver."
Marshall himself was confident that even bigger things were on the horizon.
"These guys haven't seen nothing yet," he said. "Nothing at all."
Marshall proved those words true over the next three seasons as he totaled 3,710 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns on 307 receptions with two Pro Bowl selections.
In his second season, Marshall had what was then the third-most productive season by a Broncos wide receiver with 1,325 yards. He showcased tremendous consistency as he had just one game with fewer than 50 receiving yards and averaged 13 yards per catch.
Though Marshall missed a game to start the 2008 season, he improved upon his per-game yardage statistic as he made 104 receptions, then a career high for a single season. For his efforts, he earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl.
He backed that up with a second consecutive selection in 2009, when he had 1,120 yards and 10 touchdown receptions. He also set a career mark in catch percentage, as he snagged 65.6 percent of the 154 passes thrown his way. In a Dec. 13 game against the Colts, Marshall set a new NFL record for most receptions in a single game with 21. The Broncos lost to Peyton Manning's undefeated Colts, but Marshall was practically unstoppable with 200 yards and two touchdowns.
But Marshall, who had several issues off the field during his tenure in Denver, would be traded to Miami in March of 2010. A year later, Marshall announced that he had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. In the years since, Marshall has been an vocal proponent of mental health awareness.
After departing from Denver, Marshall continued to be a prolific receiver in the NFL. He had a seven-season run with at least 1,000 receiving yards, which is a streak that only trails ones made by Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt. He is also the first player in NFL history to record 1,000-yard receiving season with four different teams.
Six Pro Bowls, one first-team All-Pro, one second-team All-Pro, 2012 Pro Bowl MVP, three-time AFC Offensive Player of the Week, 2015 NFL receiving touchdowns co-leader, eight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, NFL record-holder for most receptions in a single game, No. 1 and No. 2 Broncos franchise marks for receptions in a single game, No. 8 in receiving yards in a single season in Broncos franchise history
Stats to know
Broncos stats: 61 games, 45 starts, 327 receptions, 4,019 receiving yards, 25 receiving touchdowns
Career stats: 179 games, 158 starts, 970 receptions, 12,351 receiving yards, 83 receiving touchdowns
In his own words
"[I was] passionate. Fierce competitor. It was personal for me. I think that's why I struggled early on in my career, understanding how to be a great teammate and when to have that fire and when to turn that fire off, because it was so personal for me. Where I come from, football is life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. That's a way out for a lot of people. So it wasn't a game, and it still isn't a game, to be honest with you. So I think football was really personal for me, and that's why I played the game the way I played the game. Every game, it felt like life or death. I needed to score a touchdown every time I touched the ball. If we lost, I would probably be crying in the locker room or on the way home. So, very personal for me. When I look back on my 13 years in the NFL, it was one hell of a journey and it was exciting — some high moments, some low moments — but it made me who I am. If I could go back and do it again, I wouldn't change anything."
Three games to remember
Week 2, 2008 season: Broncos 39, Chargers 38
After serving a one-game suspension, Marshall opened his 2008 season with a bang. Jay Cutler threw his way 20 times during this shootout, and Marshall caught all but two of those passes, setting a franchise record that he would break just a season later. His toe-tapping touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone with two seconds left in the first half is surely a memorable highlight, and his four catches for 33 yards on the Broncos' game-winning drive also proved vital.
Week 3, 2008 season: Broncos 34, Saints 32
Just a week later, Marshall added another career day with 155 yards on six catches, but he actually accounted for 177 yards if you include the 22 yards the Broncos gained on a defensive pass interference call he drew. He helped push the Broncos to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter with an incredible catch in the back of the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown.
"I'm the kind of guy who sets my goals high," Marshall said after the game. "I play with a chip on my shoulder every day, even in practice. I want to be the best, and I want our team to be the best."
Week 14, 2009 season: Colts 28, Broncos 16
Even though the Broncos lost this game, it was a defining performance by Marshall as he set a new NFL record for receptions in a single game. Catching all but eight of QB Kyle Orton's 29 passing attempts during the game, Marshall was no match for any Colts defender and racked up 200 receiving yards. He showed every element of a skill set that made him a top talent in the league: He could take advantage of even the slightest windows when creating separation from defenders with his combination of speed, precise routes and great size, and when he got the ball in his hands, he was slippery in open space and powerful when taking on contact.
What may have been even better about that game was what Marshall did afterward. As detailed by The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla at the time, Marshall tossed one of the footballs he caught for a touchdown to a fan in an orange No. 15 jersey amid the crowd clad in Colts blue at Lucas Oil Stadium. After the game, that fan, who had made the trip to Indianapolis to celebrate her 47th birthday, met someone through sheer happenstance who helped lead her to the doors to the visiting locker room. There, Marshall greeted her, wished her a happy birthday and autographed the football.
Flip through photos from Brandon Marshall's Broncos career, including two Pro Bowl selections and three 1,000-yard seasons.