Brandon Marshall 'well-warranted' but must be smarter, Todd Bowles says

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets receiver Brandon Marshall made headlines this week by suggesting race might influence the NFL when disciplining players. On Wednesday, his coach, Todd Bowles, said he had no problem with Marshall speaking his mind but said Marshall should be careful when speaking on potentially sensitive, hot-button issues.

Bowles and Marshall engaged in an "in-depth" talk about the comments, according to Bowles, who said Marshall initiated the conversation.

But Bowles said he cautioned Marshall to "be smarter" when discussing controversial topics in a public forum.

"I read what he said, I heard what he said," said Bowles, who makes his head-coaching debut Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. "Me and Brandon had a talk about it. We're both fine. He's fine. The team is fine."

Marshall, a regular on Showtime's "Inside the NFL," created a stir Tuesday night when he said, "There are a lot of players out there that believe white players -- specifically, at the quarterback position -- are treated differently."

The remark was made during a discussion about Tom Brady's four-game suspension being nullified by a federal judge.

Bowles was asked by reporters if he agreed with Marshall, who didn't speak to reporters Wednesday.

"I think his opinion is well-warranted in what he said," Bowles said. "I'm sure we had cases back when I played. I've seen some things, just like he's seen some things. I'm not on that platform; he is. He has to be smarter."

Bowles, who played in the NFL from 1986 to 1993, said Marshall needed to better measure "how he says things."

"You can say things, but they come out a different way than what you mean," Bowles said. "He has to be smarter that way."

Bowles emphasized he doesn't have a problem with players expressing opinions, but he's evidently concerned about them saying the wrong thing and creating controversy.

"We talked about it in-depth like two grown men, and we let it go," Bowles said. "He understands where I'm coming from, I understand where he's coming from."

In recent days, the Jets have refrained from talking about Brady, the New England Patriots and Deflategate.

Players have been mostly tight-lipped, ducking questions while saying the only focus is the Browns.

As Bowles said, "It's not for us to talk about."

Marshall seemingly violated that edict by engaging in a Deflategate discussion on TV. Asked if he was bothered by it, Bowles said simply, "No, I'm not."

Guard Willie Colon had mixed feelings about Marshall's comments.

"Any time you bring up race, it's never coming back to you positive. Bottom line," Colon told Newsday. "So, Week 1, when all eyes should be on us playing football, you figure there's maybe another time you can use that type of forum for that."

Colon added, "I don't think [Marshall] was wrong for what he was saying, but maybe, just the timing was bad."