London Fletcher calls on union, league to help players transition away from the game

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Brandon Marshall isn’t the only current NFL player spending time thinking about how to make life after the game a bit easier for players.

Redskins linebacker London Fletcher is also sharing some thoughts on that front. In Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column, Fletcher says that Junior Seau’s suicide caused him some fearful thoughts about what his own post-football life will bring. Fletcher has had family members calling him since Seau’s death offering to help him should he ever need it and it has led him to come up with some recommendations of his own about how all NFL players can set themselves up for success after they retire.

Fletcher wants the NFL and NFLPA to work together to mandate counseling sessions for players as they begin to transition away from their playing careers.

“You take the decision out of guys’ hands, and that way, maybe some of them will be helped,” Fletcher said. “If players have to go seek counseling on their own, lots of guys won’t do that. Men in general, we’re wired to hold things inside. It’s not manly to be vulnerable and ask for help. For me, now, I can tell you I’m going to seek help if I feel I need it. That’s what Junior’s death has taught me.”

Without changing the fundamental nature of the game, you are never going to be fully able to legislate your way out of serious head injuries that lead to CTE and other health problems for players once they have retired. There are other ways to help players, though, and starting them before their careers have come to a close would be the best way to make sure it carries over into their post-football lives. With players like Fletcher and Marshall speaking out now, hopefully some of that help will start to come.

27 responses to “London Fletcher calls on union, league to help players transition away from the game

  1. Maybe that is part of the problem today. Too many people want the decision taken out of their hands.

    Here is a suggestion, maybe you should ask your agent for help. They can get you in touch with a psychiatrist/psychologist, financial advisor, estate planner, etc.

    Maybe the people that the players pay to take care of getting them that contract should be held responsible for helping the players take care of their money and themselves.

  2. Another attempt to make others responsible for what should be one’s own decisions. It is really amazing how much these NFL player who have been coddled throughout school because of their athletic talent still expect others to wipe their bottoms when they retire.

  3. OK London, lets just hold everybody’s hand from cradle to the grave.

    I’m sorry but NFL players need to grow up and take responsibility for their own CHOICES and stop blaming the league and everyone else for every time they have an injury, or go bankrupt.

    This isn’t a “society” issue, this is GROWN men who refuse to take responsibility for themselves and are looking for the “easy way out”. Every time someone has an issue? FILE A LAWSUIT against the NFL.

    These same players that hate Goddel for turning the league into “flag football” are the same ones that turn around and file lawsuits against the league for not doing enough to protect players once they’re out of the league and broke.

    NOBODY held a gun to any of these players heads and forced them to play football…they all understand their are risks involved and injury and health issues are inevitable. YOU as the player made a choice to make hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars to play A GAME for a living with the risk that you may not have the long term health as you would if you decided NOT to play and work in a cubicle for $50,000 a year.

    Nearly everyone of these guys had the opportunity to go to college on partly or entirely free, even guys who did not earn scholarships out of high school, will earn them if htey play at a high level in college and these players are the only ones that are good enough to make it to the NFL…so one way or another nearly 100% of these guys had more opportunity for an education than 99% of this country.

    Stop with the excuses, stop looking for people to feel bad for you because nobody should, these are all CHOICES that you made, and it’s about time you all start to man up to that fact and take responsibility for your own actions.

    STOP blaming everyone for your choices.

  4. Fletcher thinks the union and NFL need to help players with their post-NFL transition? I guess all those free financial planning classes, having counselling covered by their health insurance, and the NFL internship program isn’t enough?

  5. The NFL should definitely do more to help players with life after football. If nearly 80% of these guys are broke and/or divorced shortly after leaving the game, that fact alone should scream that these guys need some help.

  6. Professional Football: a profession where you get paid to play a game, which now requires rehabilitation when you’re done?

    I have ZERO sympathy.

  7. Probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for these former players to see a mandatory shrink for a few years after they have retired.

  8. Wow, London, let’s see you guys get taken to your job. They give you free food, they give you trainers. They give you coaches that follow you every day. Now that it is your time to go out on your own. You want the owners and fans(because it is the fans that pay the owner) to still take care of you.
    How about as football players like to say that you man up and take care of yourself. Be a warrior and learn how to balance a checkbook. Having seperation anxiety look up therapist in the phone book. Heck some of you are great tweeters, why not tweet looking for one.
    So many other people are correct with their comments to you London. Be a person, a grown up like the rest of us and get your own help

  9. You’d think playing for the Redskins would be the cause of depression…

    Not NOT playing for them anymore.

  10. I agree with London to a extent, but you also cant hold a grown mans hand his entire life. If you really think about it, these guys have known nothing but football since child hood, if some one can talk to them about interests or something they want to do with life after football. They could also help by counseling guys on what life is not having your name being the center of attention. A lot of them suffer because they go from being in the light to nothing.

  11. If players want post career help they should seek it from their union or their agent. It’s not the leagues responsibility to hold their hand after football. The company I have worked at for the past 15 years is not going to do that for me when I leave.

  12. Want someone to tie your shoes too so you don’t trip on a shoelace? Sheesh, with all the money and resources at their disposal you’d thibk these guys could take care of themselves. Guess not. Nope, that’s the union’s job.

  13. Give me a break! These players are fed with a silver spoon from middle school through the end’s of their careers yet we’re supposed to feel sorry for them for playing game and and getting paid more money in their “limited careers” then 99% of the population will make in their lifetime? They knew what they were getting themselves into from beginning with it being such a rough sport but they welcomed it in their lives with open arms! Now that its come back to haunt them is an issue for the league now? lol. It would be like a chain smoker being upset with the tobacco companies after they’ve been smoking a pack a day for the past 14 years.

  14. Just an idea here, but perhaps cut down the numbers in your entourage, stop buying absurd houses and cars, and invest the millions that you’re making. Could the NFL/NFLPA do a better job? Of course, but so could the guys who are being handed money by the truckload. At some point you need to be accountable for the decisions that you make, instead of expecting someone else to pick up the slack.

  15. Wow, this really is a tough crowd. London Fletcher is one of the most balanced minds out there, so I’m not sure personal attacks are him are fair practice.

    We’re dealing with a group of men with far different outlooks from your everyday Joe Sixpack. Even intelligent guys like Mark Brunell made bad investments and declared bankruptcy, not to mention the ones with less acumen who know no better than to squander megabucks on Bentleys and gold chains the size of my head.

    If we can save some lives by instituting a “back-to-reality” counseling regimen, I think it’s well worth it. The armed forces have been doing this for years with mandatory “back-to-civillian life” seminars and assistance, that have immensely aided many of our servicmen.

  16. Sorry fellas, you’re union, if it isn’t in the contract the NFL shouldn’t offer it. Just as you don’t give anything that isn’t in your contract/CBA. You want to negotiate it in the next CBA knock yourself out. Besides, are you kidding me? The rest of the peasant world works 50 years only to hope they have earned enough to survive on. You guys work on average, what, 10-12 years and “retire” millionaires?

    The problem is you guys were treated like elite superstars in high school, college and then go to the NFL. VERY few have ever held a real job or live in a normal persons shoes. Maybe some active veterans on teams should form groups and make some of the younger guys attend and drill it into each other to be prepared for real life? Sorry your parents didn’t prep you but you’re grown men now, I thought.

  17. How about they help themselves?
    Dont buy a house you cannot afford.
    Invest in a Macdonald’s instead of a risky real estate deal that is going to fail.
    Don’t get random women pregnant.

    You can tell which players are going to screw themselves over at the draft. You have a player like Ryan Tannehil who by his own admission went to the Mens Warhouse and spent $300.00 on his entire wardrobe. Then you have these players that go up to the podium with $5,000 suits and $30,000 rolex’s on their wrist. They are already in debt before they even sign a contract.

  18. In no way am I trying to compare football players to our men and women in the military (Kellen Winslow!), but Fletcher’s comments reminds me of military personnel coming back from combat operations. Many of them can’t deal with civilian life after spending months or years in high stress situations. Only recently has the Defense dept started mandatory counselling for military returning from combat to help adjust to life where you’re not being shot at daily. My cousin went through this after coming back from Afghanistan where his best friend died in his arms and said that the counselling helped tremendously.

    I agree with the above statements that there absolutely needs be some individual accountability, especially after making millions. However, the NFL/ NFLPA can also help take care of each other by guiding the players towards retirement at a young age for psychiatrists, and especially financial planning when those 7 figure paychecks stop.

  19. At the end of the day it’s not the responsibility of your work place to hold you by the hand to show you how to spend your money wisely. You do your job and you get paid. Welcome to life in reality! I’m not going to lose a second of sleep over some millionaire who didn’t invest his money wisely (or at all) and now that he’s lost his ass on it we should feel bad. This is what happens when you give inner city youth money hand over fist. They gotta live that baller life style son!

  20. Funny how so many people who claim to love their team and its players are breaking out the hateraid on this thread. You guys are pathetic.

    Post-retirement depression is pretty common – and not just in the NFL. When people make work the whole focus of their life, and suddenly don’t have that anymore, they sometimes have a problem finding any joy in life. It’s sad to say that a lot of senior citizens have issues with depression for this same reason.

    Part of what NFL players should have gotten out of college is exposure to things that help create passions beyound football — but the Wonderlic scores show that colleges don’t care much about educating star athletes.

  21. Look I am VERY anti coddling and VERY pro personal responsibility, but I think the main point Fletcher is trying to convey is similar to what Marshall was trying to convey: the nature of athletes (adrenaline junkies, macho, etc) makes it even tougher for them to admit they need help. Removing that mindset is a big deal.

    The more prominent players who speak up for guys telling them it’s ok to seek help the better. Remember when Warner sat out a game because he felt he was still experiencing concussion like symptoms? He got criticized by some, but I thought that could encourage other guys to do the same. How big would it be if players started telling the truth about not being able to play because they “got dinged”? Huge.

  22. @jimmylions, you’re an idiot. Athletes are like soldiers. We love them when they’re doing their job but when they come home it’s back to reality. And these guys (NFL players) REALLY need to come back to reality

  23. London is right. A joint effort from the union the league and the players should be instituted. Mental and financial counseling should be included. What could it hurt to offer the service to current and former players. Plus it limits the NFL’s liability.

  24. Just put warning labels on their uniforms like the tobacco companies do with their products. Labels for each body part because these guys can’t comprehend that spearing someone with the crown of their helmets will possibly break their neck, kill them, or give them a concussion.

    You made the choice to play… MAN UP.

  25. Ok, waitaminute a$$holes.

    Everyone is complaining along these same lines about the post career injuries/dain bramage/etc.

    Here is someone NOT laying blame, but asking for HELP. How many industries have similar programs for staff for transitioning to retirement. This is just standard business practice these days and it should be addressed by the Union and the League.

    This is just a pro being professional. Grow up, whiners.

  26. London Fletcher went to school for Sociology so he understands what people in the NFL are needing especially for personal experience. I have my masters in social work and understand he is using what he learned and he may be feeling now that the time has come for his retirement. People who are retiring need help finding what to do after work. Military need it when getting back from war, and NFL players need this transition counseling. I do believe the players should get paid less and implement the counseling. I believe people are being harsh for Mr. Fletcher pointing out a need, and ridiculous with the bashing for him being intelligent enough to go back to his education for after football. It takes a man to step up and say the NFL needs transition counseling. Transition counseling is just that. It is about change and many people have difficulty with it.

    I understand many players become broke from bad investments and buying over priced things that depreciate like vehicles and many of them don’t buy assets that make them money like houses. The home you live in is not an asset, it’s a liability. It also is a shame people like me aren’t helping these NFL players but I don’t work for the their over priced agents giving bad advice….SMH. I would make them more money, THEN their stupid financial planners telling them to invest in wine, come on, seriously?

    I would love to help the NFL with this transition counseling. I love football and helping the players take control of their life would be beneficial to me.

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