Brandon Marshall talks Manning, Denver D and NFL's best LB

NFL Media's Oklahoma Drill series presents exclusive, quick-hitting one-on-one interviews with players and coaches from around the league. No nonsense -- just football experiences directly from the source.

Inside Linebacker, Denver Broncos

Born: Sept. 10, 1989

Experience: 4 NFL seasons

Interview by Brooke Cersosimo | Feb. 11, 2016

We really wanted to stop the run. We knew that if we made Carolina throw the ball, the game would go in our favor.

I knew [Cam Newton] was flustered after that sack and fumble for a touchdown. I knew that's when he realized, OK, these boys are for real.

I was next to Danny Trevathan and we just started celebrating. After the AFC Championship Game, I was running around and going crazy. But after the Super Bowl, I was kind of calm for some reason, maybe because it was so surreal. But I hugged Danny and said, "We did it!"

It's unreal, almost like it's fake. Does that make sense? It's like a movie. Growing up you see everybody holding the Lombardi, you see it on TV or pictures of it. To be able to hold it up, it's crazy.

Winning. If you asked me that about Super Bowl XLVIII, my favorite experience was when we first got to the locker room. The whole experience was just wild. But this time, we were all so focused on winning and the game. When we got it done, that was the best part.

They said there were a million people there. We were on fire trucks riding around for miles, and we were out there having fun and enjoying ourselves. It was one of the craziest experiences that I've had.

Somebody threw a football up to me late, so I caught it and we kept going. I didn't realize they wanted it back, so I threw it to somebody else. Then I got a tweet that was like, "Hey, man. That was my son's ball. He wants his ball back." So I need to send him a ball.

I make sure I pray before the game. I go out there an hour before and do my own warm-up. I have my music on and take in the moment.

I grew up a Broncos fan. To play with the Broncos and win a Super Bowl with my favorite team, that's crazy.

I'll never forget these guys. We won't be the same group next year, but it was something crazy.

You want to stay together. We had the No. 1 defense all season and we were able to win a championship off the strength of that defense. So you would want to keep everyone together to make another title run.

We know how the business goes, and guys gotta get paid. It is what it is. Hopefully, we'll keep most of the guys together.

I would love to stay in Denver.

It was evident in OTAs and training camp that this was the closest group I've ever been around. Everybody was friends, we all cool and cracking jokes. We communicated well and all that transferred to the field.

[Wade Phillips] is laid back and wants us to play that way, and that's how the defense played all year. We have certain things that we do and it has to be done a certain way. If it's done that way, then we can have fun. If it's not, then Wade is not happy.

He's like a father you don't want to disappoint. When he yells at you, it feels that way like, Aw man, I let Wade down. He's like a pop.

I'm ranking us No. 1 all-time. I think the game today, especially with the rules how you can't touch receivers in 5 yards and the personal foul rules and different things, they've made it harder to play defense. Kudos to our corners who can't touch receivers beyond 5 and still make great plays.

**The athleticism is way up higher] than it's ever been.** There are running backs that are running like receivers, and tight ends running like receivers, and [Cam Newton. He's a 6-5 quarterback running like a receiver. The guy is fast. With all that being said, I think that's why we're the best.

Definitely, you have to think about it because you don't want to get fined. You're trying to be safe and be as aggressive as you can within the rules. If someone is coming across the middle, you have to adjust your target. You have to think about how you hit them instead of going all out. It's a little harder.

Two personal fouls and be out? That's almost like the NBA, right? ... Sometimes you just grab and get a penalty, so it's hard to say. I'm not a fan of it.

[Thomas Davis] is a tough guy, man. He really wanted it. I wouldn't have expected him to do anything different, and I probably would've done the same thing. If the doctor said, "You can still play, you just have to wear this on your forearm." That's real commendable. He really wants to be out there and win for his team.

I want to be cocky and say myself, but I've been on the record saying Luke Kuechly is the best. I like Luke and his game is really complete. I think I'm right up there with him, but he's doing the best right now.

I definitely have a different appreciation for Peyton. When I first got to Denver [in 2013], John Fox introduced me as a new practice-squad player. Peyton came over and introduced himself. He didn't have to because everybody knows who Peyton is. He's a humble guy.

I was really busting my tail at practice and showing the coaches what I could do. Then my guy Virgil Green was telling me that Peyton was asking, "Who is this Brandon Marshall? He's covering everybody. We can't block him." He was the first person who started that wave. Then Adam Gase started coming up to me and telling me that I'm a great player and how he was trying to get me up.

We were playing the Eagles that year and I was on the sidelines in a sweat suit. John Fox came up to me and told me, "Keep working. You're going to get your chance." I thought that was big because he was in the middle of coaching a game, and I'm a practice-squad player, so he doesn't have to talk to me.

They appreciated my effort. I finally got active and I always appreciated Peyton, first of all because he's a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever do it, but he appreciated my game and how I played. He was a voice and got my career going.

Man, that's tough. You always want to see somebody ride off into the sunset and leave the game on top like Ray Lewis and [John] Elway. You want to see that, so I don't know [if I want Peyton to retire or keep playing].

Being able to contribute has been cool. Peyton actually told me that he thought I should've made the Pro Bowl. It's been great.

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