"Listen, I don't want my quarterback dancing," the New York Jets star said Wednesday on "The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore" on Comedy Central. "I'm from the old school. I want my quarterback to get back in the huddle and lead us. But what we have to understand is, this is the new generation. This is what they're doing next. They're disruptive. They're disrespectful. They don't give a damn about anyone. And I kind of like it. I kind of like it.
"You've got to look at it, Odell Beckham Jr., and then you have Cam Newton, who I think is leading the way. Go back to when [Newton] was a rookie and he said, 'Listen, I want to be an icon.' If you want to be an icon, you can't stay in the box. You have to get out of the box. You have to be disruptive."
Later in the interview, Marshall seemed to backtrack on his opinion of Newton’s celebrations, saying, “He's not getting arrested. He's been great. He's been a great voice for us, and he's doing some amazing things. I love it. Keep doing it. Keep dancing."
The Carolina Panthers quarterback, who has been criticized throughout his career because of his on-field celebrations and showmanship, made headlines Wednesday by declaring, "I'm an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven't seen nothing that they can compare me to." No doubt the quote will be one of the storylines during the runup to Super Bowl 50.
Marshall, part of a panel that discussed Newton's polarization of football fans, doesn't believe it's a racial issue.
"First of all, I want to say this: I commend him because back in the day, our athletes and entertainers used to be civil rights leaders," Marshall said. "They used to speak up. But now, the business has taken over. You have these brands -- like Under Armour, Nike, Beats by Dre, and the yogurt thing that [Newton] endorses -- that come in and they tell you, 'Just be a good boy, shut your mouth, and collect your check.'
"I am one of those guys that if I have an opinion, I'm going to say it. I guess that's why I'm on my fourth team. But when you look at it, it's a generational thing. And I just stick to that. I don't think it's racial. I just think that there's a box that we put our quarterbacks in, and we say, 'This is how you're supposed to be. This is how Peyton Manning did it, this is how Joe Montana did it, Tom Brady, so you do it the same way.'"
Marshall, 31, is hardly an old fogey, but he's no stranger to controversy. He speaks his mind and, as he noted, it's probably why he was traded three times. Now, as a studio analyst on Showtime's "Inside the NFL," he has a national platform to share his insights. And he's pretty good at it.