It’s been more than two years since he was called for a game-changing taunting penalty on Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers at then-Heinz Field. All this time later, former Chicago Bears outside linebacker Cassius Marsh still doesn’t know what he did wrong.
On a 3rd and 8 from the Chicago 47-yard line in a 23-20 game, Marsh — who had spent training camp with the Steelers that summer — raced home for a sack of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, forcing a punt after a 7-yard loss. But then, Marsh was called for a taunting penalty after glaring at the Steelers’ sideline and then making contact with official Tony Corrente while coming off the field.
The penalty extended the Steelers’ drive, leading to a field goal in an eventual 29-27 win for the Black and Gold.
Two years later, Marsh still has no clue what he did.
During an appearance on the CHGO Sports podcast from Radio Row in Las Vegas ahead of Super Bowl LVIII, Marsh gave his perspective of the penalty and how he felt about the situation.
“Bro, when it happened, I had no idea that the hip thing had happened or whatever. I had no idea. I got to the sideline. I didn’t know the flag could possibly be on me ’cause I was like, I didn’t do anything, you know?” Marsh said regarding the infamous penalty that generated an entire discussion around taunting. “So when I got to the sideline and our coach was just like cussing me out. You know what the funny part about that is? I had no interactions with that coach ’cause I had just got there. So I had never spoken. Yeah. That was the first game. Never spoken to this man before.
“…I got to the sideline and he just was like ripping me. And I was like, ‘First all, who is who, who are you and why are you screaming at me?’ And then I looked at the sideline and I got the flag, and I really had no idea what it was. I was really shook, you know? I just didn’t know what I did wrong.”
After the game, Corrente stated that the flag was for Marsh taunting toward the Steelers’ sideline after the sack. Following his pivotal sack, he took several steps toward the Steelers’ sideline. At the time, his body language showed that he was trying to convey a message to the Steelers’ sideline before turning and running back to the Bears’ sideline.
Then, he made contact with Corrente’s hip, though it’s clear the official stuck his hip out to draw contact. Then, the flag came flying.
Corrente was asked about the flag after the game about the taunting penalty. That season, taunting was a point of emphasis. Corrente told the pool reporter about the penalty that, “I saw the player, after he made a big play, run toward the bench of the Pittsburgh Steelers and posture in such a way that I felt he was taunting them.”
The penalty helped the Steelers defeat the Bears, and Marsh was ultimately fined $5,972 for the taunting penalty.
It was one of the stranger plays of Marsh’s career.
“I still don’t really know what I did wrong. You know, the league doesn’t have an explanation for it either,” Marsh said. “So it was what it was, man. I thought it was a funny moment. It sucks that we lost that game though. I mean, any player hates to have a penalty that makes your team lose or helps contribute to your team losing.
“But refs do what refs do.”