"I'm extremely blessed."
In a nutshell, that's Brandon Marshall's attitude this week. Excited, confident, and humble.
The former Jaguars linebacker -- a fifth-round pick out of Nevada in 2012 -- was drafted because Jacksonville needed to get better at the outside linebacker position. Sure, he was a fifth-round selection, but Marshall was the first linebacker drafted by the Jaguars since 2008. They needed depth and they needed it now.
But for Marshall's rookie season, things didn't pan out the way he, or the team, would have wanted. He played sparingly on special teams in the beginning of the season, was released in October, re-signed three days later, re-released two days later, and re-signed (this time to the practice squad) four days later. He was promoted back to the active roster, just in time for the 2012 season finale at Tennessee.
He came back in 2013 hungry for more playing time, but was released on August 30th.
"I started to really like the city right before I got released. I really enjoyed living there, and of course it's nice being in Florida."
Days later, he was claimed by the Denver Broncos and spent all of 2013 on the practice squad -- that is until starting linebacker Von Miller went down with a season-ending injury and Marshall was promoted to the active roster. On Christmas Eve. With one game left. Less than three weeks until the Broncos would host the Chargers in the AFC Divisional Game.
"It's a testament to my perseverance and hard work. I love our scheme and think it plays to my strength as a linebacker."
And now, after defeating San Diego and New England in the playoffs, Marshall said he's savoring these precious days in New York City leading up to the Super Bowl.
"I'm really enjoying it. I'm extremely blessed to be able to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity. My family is elated and my mom might be happier than I am."
Marshall is the kind of player who makes a Super Bowl interesting. He was cut after just three appearances. He was released and re-signed a handful of times. His last appearance with the team that drafted him was under a lame duck coaching staff led by Mike Mularkey. He spent the 2013 offseason watching a new general manager completely dismantle his team, hoping the axe wouldn't fall to him.
But it did. And although Marshall didn't know it at the time, it set off a chain of events that the linebacker now describes as a blessing.
"I've learned from every opportunity in both places, and that's molded me into the player I am today. I really enjoyed my time with Coach Bradley and his staff in Jacksonville. He's a great coach. I think they'll do great things there. I still talk to some guys Ryan Davis, LaRoy Reynolds, Maurice Jones-Drew, Andre Branch, and Marcedes Lewis."
"But I couldn't be happier to be in Denver. I have learned so much from Coach Fox and Coach Del Rio this season, and Im a much better player because of it."
And if Denver wins the Super Bowl on Sunday?
"I'll probably go to Miami."