May 2, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; General view of an impromptu memorial celebrating the life of San Diego Charger former linebacker Junior Seau in front of Seau

Junior Seau's Suicide Touched a Nerve with Brandon Marshall

The tragic death of Junior Seau has brought mental illness and the NFL to the forefront.  Say hello to one of the faces of mental illness in the NFL.  You have to give Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall a lot of credit.  He doesn’t just admit to his own mental illness; he owns it and now he’s speaking out about it.

The Bears big offseason acquisition hasn’t shied away from his issues.  On Sunday, he put himself front and center with an article in the Sun Times.  Here are a few choice excerpts.

There are many people out there who are suffering and have nowhere to turn for help or are afraid because of the stigmas placed on mental health.

In therapy, I learned how to express my emotions and talk about my problems, then apply it to my real life. I had to work through my entire belief system, train myself how to think, not what to think, and let go of the things that had me in bondage.

This is where Marshall goes a little off the deep end.

Focusing more on this issue, we see more and more professionals doing research on the brain and head trauma in retired athletes. I respect their science and their research on CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and how they think it might be associated with depression and dementia, but we can’t recognize CTE until the autopsy.

We can, however, start today by treating the living. Treatments that helped me — but that I think we all can benefit from — are dialectical behavior therapy and metallization therapy.

Huh?  I don’t know what either of those therapies are, but they sound like something I don’t want to take part in.  Here’s the capper from Jay Cutler’s favorite target:

As athletes, we go through life getting praised and worshipped and making a lot of money. Our worlds and everything in them — spouses, kids, family, religion and friends — revolve around us. We create a world where our sport is our life and makes us who we are.

When the game is taken away from us or when we stop playing, the shock of not hearing the praise or receiving the big bucks often turns out to be devastating. The blueprint I am creating for myself will help not only other athletes, it will help suffering people all over.

We must break the cycle, and that starts with prayer and by seeking help. By understanding the pain,
we can replace the hurt
with love.

Like I said at the start, I give Marshall a lot of credit; he’s really putting himself out there.   It’s through the courage of guys like Marshall that this cycle of violence will come to an end.  It could be the only thing that saves the NFL.

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