The suicide of Junior Seau raised questions regarding whether the NFL does enough to help former players obtain assistance they need when encountering rough spots in their lives.
Less than three months after Seau’s passing, the league has launched “NFL Total Wellness,” aimed at helping current players, former players, and league and team personnel.
The league unveiled the program Thursday, announcing the effort after a meeting that included Commissioner Roger Goodell, Dr. David Satcher, and representatives of Gridiron Great, the NFL Player Care Foundation, and NFL Player Engagement.
“There is no higher priority for the National Football League than the health and wellness of our players,” Goodell said in a release. “Members of our community are not immune to the challenges that all individuals face. As we enter what promises to be a very exciting 2012 season, we stand by our commitment to the total wellness of our current and former players. This service is here for you.”
NFL Chief Human Resources Officer Robert Gulliver and NFL V.P. of player engagement Troy Vincent will lead the program. In a Thursday letter to all NFL Personnel, a copy of which PFT has obtained, Vincent explains that NFL Total Wellness includes “NFL Life Line,” a “free, independent and confidential” phone service and website that will be available to “all members of the NFL family.”
NFL Life Line can be accessed 24 hours per day, seven days per week, every week of the year, and all calls and online inquiries will be strictly confidential and not shared with the league, teams, or any “related entity.”
Here’s hoping that players and coaches who need help will trust that the service is indeed confidential. Players may have concerns in that regard; supposedly, that’s one of the reasons why the NFL disbanded its free-ride service for players who may have had too much to drink. As a result, it’ll be important for the NFL to continue to reiterate that point.