New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall appeared on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" Wednesday to promote his foundation to promote mental illness awareness, called Project375.
I wrote about Project375 in November because I had stumbled upon it and thought I would use my platform to promote. My platform however, is nowhere near as large as Stephen Colbert's.
Marshall spoke very openly about his struggles with mental illness, specifically Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD, and even let Colbert paint his nails #CrazyStigmaGreen, the color for the campaign.
I think it's very bold for a Pro Bowl wide receiver to go on television to speak very openly about a very personal topic and to tickle his masculinity by painting his fingernails. It's a strong message and one that people should look up to. People whisper about mental illness like people used to whisper about cancer. Marshall is bringing this stigma out of the shadows.
People should be taking notes as to how Marshall is advocating a cause he feels passionate about. I don't only look up to Marshall for being an advocate and acknowledging these issues, but I look up to him because he could be an example about how we move the LGBT Rights Movement in sports and in general forward.
The stigma behind mental illness is hard to conquer, but it is easier today than it ever has been because we have voices and organizations that can speak up and people who can look up to them. Homophobia in sports is the same way, because we have strong foundations, organizations, and the people who are behind them, to lead us to our goals.
In other news, here's some Championship previews:
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos, 3:00 ET, CBS
It is the 17th meeting all-time between quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, and the fourth time the two have met in the AFC Championship. Brady has won 11 of the prior 16 games, but they are tied 2-2 in the playoffs, with Manning having a 2-1 lead in conference title games; all four playoff games have been won by the home team quarterback.
Brady has had a great season thus far, throwing for 36 touchdowns, which is tied for the most touchdowns he has thrown in a season since his legendary 50-TD year in 2007. A lackluster, injured rushing attack has also made this season more difficult for Brady, but he has risen to the challenge. Despite the mediocre run game, Brady has had wide receiver Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski at his disposal.
On the other hand, Manning has had the opposite kind of season. He was leading the league in interceptions by the time he got benched in Week 10 after throwing four against the Chiefs. A large part of his lack of success could have been a foot injury that had been limiting him in the first half of the year. After the Chiefs game, he never saw a snap until Week 17 against the Chargers, where the Broncos clinched home-field advantage.
The defense is the key for the Broncos, ranked the league's best. The Broncos lead the league in sacks and their secondary is anchored by cornerbacks Chris Harris, Jr. and Aqib Talib. It's arguably the best defense Brady has faced this season, and the Broncos defense was key in their Week 12 overtime win.
The Patriots will get their chance to redeem themselves, but the Broncos still have a lot to prove in this game. The quarterbacks and running backs have not fulfilled their preseason expectations, but a Super Bowl berth should hush the doubters. I'm very tempted to pick Denver being at home, but the Patriots should win this game.
In the late stages of the playoffs, coaching plays a huge part in the outcome of the game, and Bill Belichick has been to many title games, while Gary Kubiak is coaching in his first. Plus, I don't see there being a way that Belichick allows his team to lose to the Broncos twice in a season.
Jeremy Brener: Patriots 24-Broncos 19. Jim Buzinski: Broncos 23-20.
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers, 6:30 ET, FOX
This game excites me just as much as the AFC Championship Game because I genuinely feel that these are the two most balanced teams in the NFL., and record-wise, these are the two best teams.
The last time the Cardinals were in Charlotte, they were a wild card starting Ryan Lindley at quarterback in a playoff loss. This year, QB Carson Palmer maintained his health and lead the team to its best record in franchise history at 13-3. Head Coach Bruce Arians motivates his team well and is a candidate for his third NFL Coach of the Year Award in five seasons.
Bruce Arians' main competition for the award is Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera, who also led his team to its best record in franchise history at 15-1. The Panthers have a strong defense led by fourth-year defensive players Luke Kuechly and Josh Norman. They have surrounded Kuechly and Norman with veterans Thomas Davis, Charles Tillman, Cortland Finnegan, and Jared Allen. On offense, QB Cam Newton has had an MVP-like season and has made the players around him better. Veterans Jonathan Stewart, Jerricho Cotchery, and Greg Olsen are each having one of their best seasons.
Both teams showed signs of strength and weakness this past week, as the Panthers played a strong first half and a lax second half, and the Cardinals were trailing for most of the second half and needed overtime to win. I think the Panthers' home field advantage will come into play and they will edge the Cardinals in another overtime finish.
Jeremy: Panthers 27-24 (OT). Jim: Cardinals 31-27
Playoff picks to date: Jeremy, 5-3. Jim, 6-2.