Brandon Marshall: Too many suffer because of stigmas about mental health

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We’ve heard from many people around the football world in the wake of Junior Seau’s death, but Brandon Marshall’s response still stands out.

The Bears receiver wrote an op-ed for the Chicago Sun-Times in which he discusses Seau’s death (along with those of Dave Duerson and Kenny McKinley) in light of his own battles with mental health issues. Marshall has been very open about his own struggle with mental illness and he uses the op-ed as a way to urge other football players battling depression or other issues to get help before it is too late. Marshall believes players are conditioned not to show their emotions from a young age and that they fear being stigmatized if they seek help for their problems.

For many of these players, the problems become more acute when they stop playing. There have been numerous reports about the financial and relationship difficulties that players face after retirement as well as the ever-increasing focus on the impact head injuries take as players get older. Marshall applauds those efforts, but points out that CTE can only be diagnosed at autopsy and thinks that more needs to be done to help players when they’re alive.

“Looking at the situation with Seau and other cases with retired athletes, I think our focus should be more on why the transition seems to be so hard after football. 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.”

The whole thing is quite thoughtful, candid and worth a moment of your time.

58 responses to “Brandon Marshall: Too many suffer because of stigmas about mental health

  1. Come on…..what stigma? These players can seek help without anybody ever finding out. In this day and age you can probably even hire a shrink and have counseling sessions over the internet and get an rx over the internet. Too much is being made of the suicides in the nfl. The nfl employes thousands of people and only a select few have chosen to kill themselves. I bet if you look at the suicide rates for police officers, postal employees, and wall st executives the are a million times higher than the nfl.

  2. Glad to see him trying to make a difference. I know we hear a lot of bad things about Brandon Marshall, but i’m glad he is doing this and using his own mental illness to write and try and help others..

  3. Wow, that was big of him. It takes a lot to come out and lay your issues on the table like that. Good for him.

  4. Many people suffer from depression and never played football. They aren’t DR’s to know. But this is a tired yet reasonable response.

    As from it’s tough being me, because so many rely on me. Well NBA/MLB players are doing this part the same. Not hearing the whine from them. You do have a choice.

    But the fresh point I have is that I am seeing vets and ex-players (those that made their bank already) are coming out against the game they played. They are possibly closing the doors off for those that haven’t rec’d their fame and fortune. This could be looked at as “wisdom” it also could be looked at as “selfish”. The vets/ex-players still all about me, me, me, me and me.

    I knew from 8 years old when I strapped them on, it is a dangerous games. That bell rung could very well mean concussion. I as Joe Citizen have to keep up on all laws/bills etc. I cannot plead ignorance, the courts do not allow that. NFL Vets/Ex-Players are trying to use ignorance as their excuse, which I find false as they knew the game is dangerous, that was the draw!

    To me this is all an agle to attack the owners for money. Nothing else. Vag-City Blues.

  5. I don’t buy it. Save your millions while you play. Get a job or a hobby when you retire. It’s no different from having a career for 30 years, working 9 to 5, and suddenly have nothing to do. Walk a mile in other people’s shoes before you say “it’s a tough life”….

  6. Very well written piece from Brandon Marshall. As someone who was dealt with depression, I can identify with a few of the things that he is saying.

  7. Good stuff, Brandon. Way to speak out about this. A lot of what he’s talking about, especially with the expression of emotion in boys/men, stems from attachment theory. Certain attachment styles tend to devalue emotion, while people with secure attachment styles are able to use mother/father figures as secure bases to express their true feelings. The parents’ attachment styles actually go a long way in determining the attachment style of their kids (something that can be predicted with before the child is even born with astonishing accuracy). Junior Seau likely didn’t have a secure attachment style since his mother claimed he would never tell her anything was wrong when she asked. These are rigid, hard-to-break boundaries that are formed at a very young age (which is why Brandon used 2 year olds in his example), so it’s important to change the perception so the cycle can be broken. It’s pretty interesting, powerful, and predictive stuff, and I think it explains a lot of behavior here (most notably, that based on your attachment style, you develop a generally positive or negative view of yourself and a generally positive or negative view of others). People should pay more attention to this kind of stuff – it affects a lot more than we are aware of.

  8. I see a ton of similarities of what is happening in pro sports and in the military. Both the NFL and NHL are violent sports that take a toll on the body and mind. Yet we often choose to ignore it because of the fame and fortune of the players and organizations. For military vets, they don’t have the fame and fortune to take care of themselves, however, we far too often ignore the toll on their minds and bodies because we don’t want to face the hell we put them through or pay the cost to truly take care of them all. In both cases it’s a dangerous combination of ignorance and selfishness.

  9. I usually make fun of Brandon Marshall every time his wife stabs him, but this is a hell of an article. It just proves the decades long saying “money doesn’t always buy happiness.”

    At some point we are going to have to treat these players as humans with real human problems and not just football players with concussions.

  10. Damn must be tough makin millions and have everyone praise you.. Come on. After football is a normal life yoy finally get to have after football and relax and soend the millions. Cant be that hard. Millions of former players do it.

  11. Good piece. Kudos to Marshall for stepping forth. I remember how Ricky Williams was raked over the coals for wearing his helmet during a meeting with the press several years ago — man, the press tore him a new one over that! Then it came out that he had been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, which is a serious — and treatable — mental illness. It seems attitudes towards menatal illness are beginning to change for the better though, thanks to guys like Marshall and Williams who have been outspoken about their own challenges.

  12. Worlds not gonna revolve around you forever. Selfish. If you have problems man the f up and deal with them. Thats what bein a man is about. Dont take the cowards way out to hide from them.

  13. I echo those who have found a new respect for Brandon Marshall. Taking the athletic side of it out of the equation, I think these issues exist for several people who retire after leaving a 10+ year job. Especially one that fosters the type of bond and relationship in a professional locker room.

    People who assume its easy to unload your personal demons on someone, much less a perfect stranger like a shrink will never understand what goes through someones mind when they committ suicide. I think it would be safe to assume for someone like Junior Seau or several other pro athletes, admitting you are depressed is a sign of weakness. And the pride to admit they need help may be too much to overcome. And sadly, that determination that made them as successful as they are becomes their downfall.

    Remember one more thing. Athletes are flesh and blood like us, but their minds are wired differently. And admitting a percieved weakness goes against everything they were taught from pop warner on.

  14. It’s safe to say anyone who holds the “man up” mentality when it comes to this stuff has never dealt with depression.

    What’s worse, the “man up” style comments are exactly what keep some people who deal with depression from seeking the help they need.

    Marshall’s being open about this is good not just for NFL players, but anyone who has played football, any sport, or anyone who has dealt with depression.

  15. Its amazing how insightful and thoughtful Marshall can be when it comes to this stuff and then seeing the kind of boneheaded mistakes he makes afterwards. Nevertheless, he has a point and I would encourage all football players to take the time to read what he has to say.

  16. What Brandon said is true.

    BUT, the average pro football player probably majored in basket weaving. These guys are Physical not professional money managers. Also they are surrounded by bloodsuckers. Similiar but not as bad as professional boxers.

    They have a short career and act like they hit a bottomless lottery. It’s a shame, but it is going to continue.

    It is what it is, if many of them didn’t have football they would be in gangs or jail.

  17. Kudos to Brandon Marshall. Just goes to show that players arent always what we see of them on the field.

  18. Great piece by Marshall. I never like him until he had that press conference and was very candid about the problems that he deals with.

    Reading some of these comments, it’s amazing the insensitivity that some people show. Just because they’re famous and make a lot of money apparently means that they can’t face and suffer through the same problems that millions of other americans do on a daily basis.

    I only wish all athletes could be as honest and forthcoming as Brandon was. Maybe regular people with problems like this will read the article and say well if it can happen to NFL players that it can happen to me. Maybe that will help them get help for themselves. and maybe in an indirect way it could save a life in the future.

  19. As a person who suffers through similar bouts, I applaud Brandon for stepping up and being a voice. Few have the courage to speak to anyone about these feelings, but being a professional athlete and speaking to the world about it…

    It’s great to see Brandon turning his own life around as well.

  20. Marshall nails it when it comes to the adulation and entitlement these athletes get their whole lives until they retire, unless they are the elite of the elite then they continue to get that after retirement also. They should be aware that billions of other people occupy this planet and don’t get those entitlements growing up and in their professional careers, but that’s on them also and not up to their employers to make them realize that. They’ve had agents, lawyers, coaches, family, friends surrounding them the whole way that need to make them aware of that, you can’t just blame an employer after they retire and say it was their fault only, no way. Marshall makes great points. Professional athletes are humans and not immune to the same issues everyone else suffers from, mental health just one of them.

  21. Read BM’s heartfelt op-ed in Chi Times and applaud him for it. And I thought he was just another garden variety, all american ahole!

    I don’t agree that men are stigmatized for seeking help. You would had to have buried your head in the sand for the last 10 years to still believe that with all that has been written about it.

    Having said that, BM is still in the game not even thinking about the rest of his life after football so why has he been exhibiting moronic tendencies from time to time? Just saying.

  22. Like others have said, I applaud Marshall for this. Therapy works for some, not for others, but i think it’s important for guys in what are considered “tough” careers such as an NFL player to at least put it out there that it’s okay to get help.

    Look, i laughed just as much as the next guy at that Geico commercial with R Lee Ermey about an ex-drill instructor making a horrible therapist, but it was kind of irresponsible to make it seem like anyone in therapy is some weakling talking about how yellow makes them sad.

  23. Love the IGNORANCE of the haters on here

    Seriously, you people are the exact people I have no respect for.

    Marshall, Williams, etc. Have been diagnosed with mental disorders of some sort. You think millions of dollars cure that?

    You morons need to realize money isnt happiness, and working a 9-5 job is not the same as being a professional athlete. Being a pro, especially of Seaus caliber, bring YEARS of physical and mental stress. Money doesnt just cure that.

    Marshall unfortunately gets a terrible rep because of his history with the law, but this guy time and time again does things like this to say hey, even though I get myself in the wrong places at the wrong times, and I am trying to make myself better, I am also trying to show everyone that this is an illness, and these are reason why as you get older they tougher and tougher to battle.

    Kudos to Marshall.

  24. WOW! Great great way to speak! I thought he was just a prima donna WR but know he got my respect because he seems to be so mature. I hope he can help a lot of people and make this world a little better!

  25. Is it just me or is Brandon Marshall trying to become the Ron Artest of the NFL?

    It’s a shame that Marshall’s actions never match his words. I don’t doubt that he’s struggling with some personal issues but I’m not going to trust anything he says until he can stay out of trouble for more than a few months.

  26. You are all so quick to praise someone for their 10 words when their 10 actions have been the opposite. Sad.

  27. Every notice the commercials for depression and anxiety, all are shown with women?

    Marshall makes a valid point about the male of the human species.

  28. BMarsh is a good soul, plays with gut wrenching passion, as a fan who has worried about his insecurities an or issues, I am one to always respect effort more than anyone and I hope his efforts in reaching out to others battling depression, Bares fruit. Effort by anyone nowadays is so overlooked or rarely reciprocated. Love thyself first, then you can truly offer love. Brandon good luck with the future. Speak up for effort. So the snobby can no longer steal from those who die daily trying for something. Saloooo.

  29. Marshall believes players are conditioned not to show their emotions from a young age and that they fear being stigmatized if they seek help for their problems.

    Good for Marshall, but sadly this does not only apply to athletes but to everyone suffering a mental illness. If you don’t suffer from mental illness, or know someone close who has, you won’t understand.

  30. I’d have to agree, everything is focused on women, but all commercials especially the medicine are tailored at women because of their constant need to have doctors ie nurses checking them out. most men avoid the doctors. I know I do.

  31. Looks like its better to do a bunch of stupid stuff and then write a sincere sounding article than it is to not do a bunch of stupid stuff in the first place. You get more praise from people doing it the brandon Marshall way.

  32. CTE and post-concussion syndrome are on the front burner right now. But more than 70 percent of suicides are linked to people battling depression and other mental illness. Substance abuse–which often comes into play when depression sufferers try to self-medicate–is another significant factor.

    Those who think it’s easy for anyone, let alone celebrity athletes, to seek treatment are hopelessly naive. We live in an intrusive age where people are constantly judged for any perceived weakness–as the nasty posts on this thread demonstrate. Kudos to Marshall for having the courage to speak out on his own struggles, and to try and throw a lifeline to others.

  33. My question is. Why are these guys who are getting paid millions getting into financial problems. It’s the only sport you hear where these guys go bankrupt after they stop playing. Get educated and invest. It’s really not hard to save your millions you made the last 10-15 years and save to be able to live comfortably.

  34. 12 months ago I had everything a guy could want, a great home, great wife, two fantastic boys and my dream job. Because of depression and anxiety disorders I stood on the brink of loosing it all. Behavior therapy has changed my life. After reading BM’s article I can tell he’s got it all sorted out. That doesn’t mean he won’t make mistakes still but I can see a late career blooming like Ricky Williams. Personality disorder is something he will have to live with the rest of his life.

  35. Much respect Brandon! There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking psychiatric help. What people need to understand is that mental illness is in fact a physical ailment. A chemical imbalance can be inherited, can be caused do to trauma to the brain, could be from drug abuse, or a combo of them all. And that’s not even getting into social issues it’s both nurture and nature. Also people seeking help need to realize that just because your first therapist messed up or didn’t work out doesn’t mean you should give up. I know people who took multiple therapists both psychologists and psychiatrists before finding someone who could be an true life coach.

  36. adipaola says:

    My question is. Why are these guys who are getting paid millions getting into financial problems. It’s the only sport you hear where these guys go bankrupt after they stop playing. Get educated and invest. It’s really not hard to save your millions you made the last 10-15 years and save to be able to live comfortably.

    Football certainly is not the only sport where players go bankrupt. Player financial problems–as well as player marital problems and player legal problems–just happen to be among some football bloggers’ favorite topics. That’s why you hear so much about it. But financial mismanagement happens in all walks of life. At least the football players you’re talking about have done it with their own money and not the financial assets of millions like you’re friendly neighborhood bankers, financial planners, and Wall Streeters.

    The NFL has approximately 1900 active players each year–and the average career lasts three years, not 10-15. Most of those players do save their money and live quiet, productive lives. But you wouldn’t click on those stories, now would you? Not sure what any of this has to do with Brandon Marshall’s op-ed.

  37. I’m sure you’ll all swoon over this con artist the next time he punches some woman in the face, too. And there will be a next time. Chumps.

  38. bchapman2011 says: May 6, 2012 11:46 AM

    Too much is being made of the suicides in the nfl. The nfl employes thousands of people and only a select few have chosen to kill themselves. I bet if you look at the suicide rates for police officers, postal employees, and wall st executives the are a million times higher than the nfl.
    I’d bet they are not.

    The US military has a serious problem with suicides, but it’s about the same rate as the regular population. The difference being, the US military screens personnel for health issues before they even come in the service so they should (in theory) have a more healthy population mentally. The US military also knows the suicide problem evolved from the stigma of personnel seeking help for mental illness.
    Hey, some of us who love the NFL want the players to live long productive lives afterwards. You know, the players who are battling out there and providing entertainment for me and you. I don’t want to see players blowing their brains…or chests…out when they believe they have no other place to turn.

  39. jbeezy80526 says:
    May 6, 2012 10:32 PM
    >>>Keep playing that disability card, B-Marsh. I’m sure that’s the reason you beat up women.<<<

    Marshall has been making strides to deal with his mental health issues for the past 12 months or so with a specialist out of Boston, it's well documented!!! For any Broncos fan, Dolphins fan or Brandon Marshall haters who don't think that he's making significant strides or stills lacks any accountability……. What could be more accountable than for a super star to start saying that he takes responsibility for his actions or for someone who's soo invincible to say out loud and in print "I have a mental health issue and I'm taking action to take control of it"!!!

    Marshall is going to alright from here on out!! Mark my words!!! He has made the turn around in his life and it's already showing loud & clear with his actions & his words, soon his play will reflect it more than ever!!!

  40. You people are pathetic. It was less than two months ago Marshall was accused of punching yet another woman in the face. A 22 year old, out celebrating her birthday. Apparently he gets a Mulligan every time he assaults a female with most of you sycophants.

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