Several NFL players revealed their own personal mental health battles and hope that by speaking out it will help others who might be struggling.
“I still think the stigma’s pretty strong,” Solomon Thomas of the Las Vegas Raiders told Carson Daly on the “Today” show in a piece published Wednesday. Thomas shared that he sought help following the death of his sister.
“That’s the one reason I didn’t come out and start speaking right away about my depression, about my journey, and about my sister’s journey, as well,” the Raiders’ star added. “I was afraid of, like, what fans would think, if teammates would think I’m soft.” (RELATED: REPORT: The NFL Regular Season Will Officially Expand To 17 Games)
DJ Chark, with the Jacksonville Jaguars, said he experienced always being “nervous,” whether or not it was “football-related” when he was at Louisiana State University. (RELATED: David Hookstead Is The True King In The North When It Comes To College Football)
But when he got into the league, he worried about how his struggle would be perceived.
“If you come out and you speak on it, first thing is ‘He’s weak,’ or, you know, ‘He’s not a leader,'” Chark said. “And it’s like ‘Oh, well, we don’t want that on the team.'”
“We’re three-part beings: We’re spiritual, mental, physical,” Demario Davis of the New Orleans Saints explained. “Even if you want to look at, you know, gladiators being on the field, what’s going to make the best gladiator? That gladiator needs to walk out mentally sharp as he is physically.”
Minnesota Vikings’ Adam Thielen, who helps youth battling mental health issues through his foundation, shared the importance of talking to your teammates.
“I can’t explain how important it is to just say ‘Hey, I have some things going on and I need your help,'” Adam shared. “We’re here to help them now.”
“Just know you’re not alone,” the Jacksonville Jaguars’ star added. “I know that for a fact, because, once I opened up, I found people who I’m able to have a conversation with, guys like you, who I never thought I’d have a conversation with.”
“It’s OK to not be OK,” the Raiders’ player continued. “You know, it’s OK to be sad, awkward, whatever it is. Go get help. There’s help available.”