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Goodell suggests mental health counseling, but will players take him up on it?

Roger Goodell AP

Among the lofty goals espoused by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in his chat with Peter King of SI.com was the possibility of post-career mental health counseling for players.

Goodell said there should be.  “At least an evaluation,” Goodell said.  “That’s something that’s being discussed as a part of your exit physical. Part of that is mental health evaluation to see what it can be. I’ve heard that from players myself.”

It’s a great idea, and Goodell also mentioned the creation of an Ambassador Program, which uses former players to counsel current ones on other issues after they retire.

But the biggest problem with implementing such a plan may come from players themselves. As sensitive a topic as mental health still can be for the population at large, applying it to a group of athletes can be trickier.

In one of the last big stories I wrote for a newspaper, a college basketball coach admitted struggling with a diagnosis of depression.

Former NFL linebacker Dwight Hollier, now a licensed professional counselor at Southeast Psych in Charlotte, said that’s not uncommon at all.

“It’s unfortunate but it’s true, there’s still a stigma associated with depression and mental illness,” Hollier said. “There’s a macho culture. The impression we’re supposed to give off is that we’re unbreakable. . . .

“The statistics that are out there don’t always show an accurate picture, because more people are suffering than come forward. That macho persona in sports keeps a lot of people from opening up and getting help.”

Goodell echoed that sentiment, saying mental health forums for players and their spouses have been held.

“Very few players showed up,” Goodell said. “It’s the same old thing. We have a lot of individuals that have tremendous pride and they’re not always going to raise their hand and say, ‘I may need help.’ But we all need help. And we all need assistance.”

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9 Responses to “Goodell suggests mental health counseling, but will players take him up on it?”
  1. sportsmeccabi says: Jun 11, 2012 9:30 AM

    An exit mental health examination?

    Well we all know Favre wouldn’t have even passed the exit part.

  2. rpiotr01 says: Jun 11, 2012 10:04 AM

    Goodell suggesting that the problems affecting ex-players are often complicated, and may require a number of different treatments, including the years of spiritual and self-reflection required to hone a new identity outside of the Pro Football machine that has molded these players since puberty, when their minds and personalities and moral compasses were still forming and already impressionable?

    Nuts to that! We want a lawsuit, followed by a big bag with a $$$ sign on it.

  3. mjkelly77 says: Jun 11, 2012 10:29 AM

    Any players who don’t wholeheartedly support this are only looking for an additional post-retirement payday.

  4. eagleswin says: Jun 11, 2012 10:34 AM

    I’m waiting for the NFLPA press release that accuses the NFL of using this program to spy on players and demanding that the NFLPA be given full control of it. Following that announcement would be another one from the NFLPA offering counselling for $200/hr.

  5. daysend564 says: Jun 11, 2012 10:41 AM

    Here comes the NFLPA fighting that Goodell shouldn’t say that the players need mental health help. SUE!!!

  6. wallio says: Jun 11, 2012 10:49 AM

    Where are all the Goodell bashers? Any other topic with his name in the title has five or six dozen comments..,.

  7. schmitty2 says: Jun 11, 2012 11:00 AM

    wallio says:Jun 11, 2012 10:49 AM

    Where are all the Goodell bashers? Any other topic with his name in the title has five or six dozen comments..,.

    Maybe Goodell should take part in that examination. . How’s that?

  8. jerrysandusky1 says: Jun 11, 2012 11:26 AM

    @sportsmeccabi: Favre would have passed, but it would have been intercepted.

    Players didn’t even take advantage of the free ride home program. What makes one think they’ll show up to something involving effort and time?

  9. CKL says: Jun 11, 2012 11:36 AM

    It would be a good idea to get guys like Brandon Marshall on board to promote this. He’s already been outspoken about the help he received and players coming forward are probably the most powerful encouragement, especially if they are active/star players.

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