(Photo: Reuters/Mike Stone)
Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who has converted to Christianity, spoke to Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith of ESPN2's "First Take" on Tuesday and accused Smith of using an unloving tone when criticizing New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow.
"My thing with you Stephen was that, knowing what the Bible says about our tone and our platform – using it to uplift and to bring life and not to destroy – it would be hard for you, if you're filled with the Spirit, to go on there and talk about someone like Tebow the way you do," said Marshall.
The three-time Pro Bowl selection said it was unfair of Smith to call the Jets quarterback's play "garbage" and use words to tear him down, even if it is true that Tebow isn't a good player.
"As Christians, we're supposed to speak the truth in love," Marshall said. "So you can speak the truth. If the truth about Tim Tebow is he's the best quarterback or if he's the worst quarterback, you can speak it, but speak it in love."
Smith said he hadn't been unloving, and pointed out that even Tebow had previously thanked Smith for his game analysis. Tebow had expressed appreciation for Smith because Smith generally focuses his criticisms to the quarterback's on-the-field performance rather than his personal life.
Faith was a topic that was raised prior to the show during a phone conversation between Marshall and Smith. Smith indicated that he felt uncomfortable when Marshall began preaching or lecturing him over the phone, especially considering Marshall is a fairly new convert to Christianity, but Marshall says Christians have a responsibility to do so for one another.
"The thing that disappointed me listening to you as a Christian, is that biblically it says, 'As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.' Meaning we're supposed to surround ourselves with people who are like us, other Christian people who can pour into our lives and hold us accountable," said Marshall.
Earlier this month, ESPN ran an "E60" story about Marshall, who has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder and has a history of violence and getting into off-the-field trouble. He described his former self as "a ticking time-bomb," but says he now has things under better control.
Bayless noticed a change in Marshall since the time the receiver was traded from the Miami Dolphins to the Bears this past offseason.
"I believe Brandon Marshall is a changed man w/ a new spiritual base," said Bayless via Twitter earlier this month.
"Not changed ... transformed," Marshall tweeted in response.
Before the "First Take" interview ended, Marshall also made it clear that he thought the powerful slam that Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh used against Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on Monday night was a "dirty" play.
"This is not wrestling," he said. "You don't leg whip someone ... You don't do that."
Both Bayless and Smith said the play was aggressive, but not dirty. The NFL agrees, and after reviewing the play has determined that it was completely legal.