If only someone had been there for Junior Seau…
An NFL linebacker recently retired, and as has happened so many times before, to so many players who have difficulty making the transition from playing to regular life, a series of frightening thoughts began to enter into his mind.
The former player thought about killing himself. It wasn’t the first time he had thoughts of suicide, but these thoughts seemed more serious. The player’s wife became so concerned for not just his safety, but hers, that she contacted the NFL.
Two ex-players from the NFL’s new league initiative that uses former players to coach recently retired ones responded. The three former players spent three days together. The players themselves bonded over having been in the NFL and talked bluntly about how difficult it is to leave the game and the money and the accolades and become a normal person again.
At the end of the three days, the player was no longer talking about taking his own life but instead was talking about the future. The wife of the player sent an emotional email to the NFL and the two players who talked a player away from the brink. It read:
“I just wanted to send out a HUGE THANK YOU to the two of you for what you did for my husband over the weekend! He is so enthusiastic about seeing the light at the end of a tunnel, and it absolutely would NOT have been possible without your support and this fabulous program. I honestly think it is the most worthwhile thing I’ve seen the NFL do in all of the years he was involved. He summed it up by saying, ‘I think those few days saved a couple of lives in that room.’ I don’t profess to know or understand the small brotherhood of NFL alumni, but you guys did a phenomenal job in reaching out and changing lives. [Former player’s name redacted] I know you spent years as an NFL great, but perhaps this is your best work, the thing for which you should be most proud. [Former player’s name redacted] thank you for that initial phone call and email — you made a difference in our lives. As a wife, I thank you for doing something I couldn’t. Please express to whomever the powers that be what great importance this program bears. It is an integral part of the transitioning process and if you ever have a board for families or wives involvement, count me in — this is the best thing the NFL has put money towards in years. THANK YOU and I hope to meet you two in person one day. Until then…”
That is a truly amazing story. Shout out to those players who took the time to help this brother get his life together. There is no telling how his survival will impact the lives of his friends and family.
The NFL runs what it calls ambassador and transition programs, but it is the latter program that is extremely interesting. It consists of recently retired players who go through extensive training and actually become certified to help in the areas of mental and behavioral health.
The program is run by former NFL player Troy Vincent, who said one of the main goals is to give “a sense of hope” to players having difficulty both in the game and once retired.
“We want to support both active and retired players,” said Vincent, who’s currently a league vice president.
Clap for ‘em!
Image via AP