Bringing Mental Illness Awareness to the NFL

Oct 10, 2013

Brandon Marshall speaking at the NAMI National
Convention in Seattle, 2012.

While many other players will be wearing pink cleats, towels, wristbands and gloves to support Breast Cancer Awareness, Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall will be wearing green shoes—with pink laces—to bring mental illness awareness to a national stage. Mental illness is an issue to which Marshall is personally connected. He was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2010.

But when you’re a player in the uniform strict NFL, this creates problems. Marshall will most likely get fined for his clashing footwear.

"I'm going to get fined and I'm going to match that, and we want to partner with a cancer-care [charity]," Marshall said, via ESPN Chicago. "We're still working on the details to give, really give back to an organization that is doing work in the mental health area. [Also], the diagnosis of breast cancer can hit families hard. It affects all of us."

On a flyer released by the Brandon Marshall Foundation, Marshall promised to match whatever fine he receives and donate it. He will also autograph and auction off the cleats that he wears for the game.

In addition to Marshall’s shoes, the Chicago skyline will be glowing green Thursday night. His foundation has arranged to light up the Trump Tower and the Intercontinental Hotel in Chicago in bright green to “make the city aware.”

Leading up to his diagnosis, Marshall had lived for years with his mental illness. But after learning how to manage his own illness he has now put his focus on helping others get help. In 2012, Marshall attended the NAMI National Convention in Seattle and spoke to a packed room about his experiences with BPD. “If it’s me suffering to help thousands, and maybe millions in the world, I wouldn’t change it for nothing,” he said. “It started with me falling on my face. If you want to change, it starts with yourself.”

NAMI Executive Director Michael J. Fitzpatrick released a statement applauding Brandon Marshall’s continuing efforts to raise awareness during Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) and encouraged all those watching the game to wear both pink and green. 

“I like to say that green goes well with pink,” Marshall said on the flyer. “In fact, green goes with everything and it’s time we all talked about that.”

Update: Brandon Marshall was fined $10,500 by the NFL for wearing the green shoes.

NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).