Percy Harvin had “mental stresses that I can’t even put into words” in the NFL

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Percy Harvin never lacked the physical talent to be a great NFL player, but his career consisted mostly of a few flashes of greatness surrounded by many times he fell short.

Now retired, the 30-year-old Harvin told Sports Illustrated he had “mental stresses that I can’t even put into words.”

Those stresses started with migraine headaches, which he described as unbearable.

“Take a hammer and beat it on the side of your head nonstop,” Harvin said of the way migraines felt. “If you’re trying to relax, if someone’s trying to talk to you, that hammer is still going off. You’re trying to eat, still going off.”

Harvin also had anxiety that had him often playing on no sleep.

“My heart would be going, I’d be sweating, I felt like everybody in the room was looking at me. My speech was slurring. I didn’t wanna eat. I was gasping for air. You’re so worked up that it’s hard to spit words out,” Harvin said.

Harvin is now living back in Gainesville, Florida, where he was a star for the Gators. New Florida head coach Dan Mullen, who was the Gators’ offensive coordinator during Harvin’s final year there, has encouraged Harvin to spend time with the football team, and to finish his degree. Harvin says he’s been feeling better recently, and that’s why he’s now willing to talk about all the problems of his past.

“A lot of the stuff I struggled with, it just don’t affect me no more. That’s why I’m comfortable talking about it,” Harvin said. “I’m cool with you asking whatever you want. Failing a drug test. The fights. ’Cause it’s gonna help somebody.”

Harvin said he has no interest in trying to get back to the NFL, describing himself now as “at peace.”

73 responses to “Percy Harvin had “mental stresses that I can’t even put into words” in the NFL

  1. I would not wish migraines on my worst enemy. Hate when I see fans still saying “just take a painkiller” as though it’s a minor headache that will pass in an hour or two.

  2. Try joining the Marines as an 18-year old kid, Percy.

    Then getting your ass sent to Iraq, where it can be 130 degrees in the sun and then dealing with your buddies having their limbs blown off. And all this for $20K a year.

    Why don’t you just shut up?

  3. There is nothing worse than a migraine. I would rather lose an arm than deal with that pain on a regular basis

  4. It’s okay, Percy, the NFL really cares about you. But if you do decide to come back, be prepared to play Monday Night games, Thursday Night Games, games in Europe, and an 18 game schedule if I can ever get the NFLPA to accept it.

    —- Roger Goodell

  5. He was a real physical talent, but his problems with stress and migraines derailed his career. It’s a pity, because he could have been a huge star.

  6. Sounds like he suffered from panic attacks and severe anxiety. Has he ever heard of Zanex? He should be taking something Anxiety, once you’re body is used to the drug u can play football on Zanex or Lorazepam or whatever, so long as you’re not abusing them. Anxiety meds would of helped him a ton.

  7. If he thinks the stress of getting paid millions to run around with a little brown ball is unbelievable, just wait until he has to get up every morning, go to an actual job all day, come home, raise a family, fix the car, put food on the table, and juggle the bills when he’s not really even paid enough to get it done?

    Such a tragedy. My heart weeps for him.

  8. He was always a mental stress for GMs and coaches who saw all that game-breaking potential that happened too infrequently.

  9. I had my first panic attack a week weeks ago and it was one of the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced. Thinking you’re going to die for no reason and not being able to shake that fear was hard enough at home, I can’t imagine how hard it would be to play an NFL game while having one.

  10. AS A MINNESOTA VIKING4LIFE I REMEMBER PERCY HARVIN VERY, VERY WELL. WHAT A TALENT, I WAS HOPING HE’D BE AROUND FOR 8-10 YEARS. THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT IS I AM VERY HAPPY HE IS AT PEACE WITH HIMSELF BECAUSE YOU USUALLY DON’T HEAR THAT STATEMENT UNLESS THAT PERSON HAS PASSED AWAY. TAKE CARE PERCY AND THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!

  11. Anxiety is a a mother humper ,it can be exhausting as a stand alone add in the migraines and wow ,that’s off the charts ,hope things are better Perc

  12. Sounds like higher than normal anxiety; always nervous, not sleeping, short of breath. Tough problem to overcome, especially when you are expected to perform at a high level.

  13. Not everyone can stand up to the stress of being in the spotlight.

    That’s why they get paid millions a year. If it was easy we’d all be doing something like that.

  14. I struggled with migraines for years. Migraines are not just headaches and unless you’ve had one, you don’t understand that you simply can’t function. I always felt bad for Percy when it was reported that he missed practice or game time with a migraine. Guy had real talent but he also had that anchor holding him back.

  15. Percy has a medical condition. Sad all you pathetic amateur doctors chipping in with “take a pain pill” or “take an anxiety med” or “wait til you have to really work!” Trolls. Wait til migraine happens to you before you giving an ignorant uninformed opinion. And stop being jealous and resentful of people who have more money.

  16. bondlake says:
    June 30, 2018 at 6:53 am
    Try joining the Marines as an 18-year old kid, Percy.

    Then getting your ass sent to Iraq, where it can be 130 degrees in the sun and then dealing with your buddies having their limbs blown off. And all this for $20K a year.

    Why don’t you just shut up?

    —————————————

    Imagine being born in Iraq and having people from the other side of the world constantly blowing things up around you while the people who those people from around the world are fighting are doing the same to you. Both sides telling you to live how they want you to live, desperately trying to find a way to make enough to feed your family and hoping that their limbs aren’t blown off in some random strike from either side.

    That 18 year old kid who volunteered to be there suddenly has a great life in comparison and should just shut up.

    Am I right, or is life simply a matter of perspective and just because someone is in a situation that outside people would say is more stressful than you doesn’t make what you’re dealing with any less stressful, even if it’s as simple as trying to deal with standardized exams that can have a huge impact on your dreams.

  17. bondlake says:
    June 30, 2018 at 6:53 am
    Try joining the Marines as an 18-year old kid, Percy.

    Then getting your ass sent to Iraq, where it can be 130 degrees in the sun and then dealing with your buddies having their limbs blown off. And all this for $20K a year.

    Why don’t you just shut up?
    ————————–
    I’m a Vet and your statement is the most ignorant I’ve ever heard; the man was discussing HIS conditions not Comparing them to anything or anyone…just a ridiculous statement

  18. If you can’t handle the heat better get out of the kitchen. Glad he found peace out of the NFL pressure cooker.

  19. Percy better thank god every day that his coach talked him back to campus. 99% chance he would be dead or in jail by now if he didnt have something positive to do. Hope somebody reliable is watching his money, because if he is on his own he’s going to be broke soon.

  20. I am a very lucky man, I can afford to be generous. It is within my ability, and I choose to be that man. Percy I can’t begin to put myself in your shoes, although I have had a migraine. So now just be well, enjoy the rest of your life with the people you love, and if you can help anyone else in any way, do so. We are all working to get better every day, Percy still is, I still am, and every good person worth his or her salt is too.

  21. It is really nice to see the people who support the medical issues you can’t see. So often people are bashed or ignored or accused of even being a baby or faking it when the condition is not visible. If someone didn’t have a leg, no one would say anything, they wouldn’t expect anything nor would they say bad things. But so many medical issues are not visible, a thousand, Rheumatic issues for example. So it is often disregarded. Or if one is common it is also…diabetes is a good example. People are just like oh you have diabetes…like because it is so common it is not really a big deal. Mental health issues exasperated by something else is twice as bad for someone and hardly not recognized or someone is embarrassed to admit it. Anxiety is so hard to deal with, you sometimes even think you are going to have a heart attack and die. You can’t calm yourself bc it is subconsciously happening to you. Meds do not solve every problem in life. Most chronic conditions also cause major depression–some bc the brain is not functioning correctly and thus it is a symptom and some get it bc they don’t have the life they used to have–imagine having a debilitating stroke and trying to live with the the fact you lost the entire life you had and now this one sucks. Migraines are extremely painful, make you sick to your stomach, lights hurt. It is not a headache, but think of your worst headache, when you can’t even put your head on a pillow bc it pounds more, do you think you could go play football with that headache, well a migraine is 5x that headache. I give him so much credit for being so open and honest, his life is not as easy as you may think. Money honestly does not buy happiness, and unless you are very very sick for any reason, you have no right to judge or make any derogatory statement because you have no idea what it is like. You don’t have to be a doctor to know these issues are true, to know that you don’t live with whatever the condition might be so you don’t know how it feels or what your life would be like. You don’t have to be a doctor to have sympathy for people who struggle with their body not working the way it should for whatever reason.

  22. Harvin had more than a few flashes of greatness. I consider him the most talented nfl player I ever saw, even if it wasn’t for very long. He could play receiver, running back, kick returner, and punt returner at elite levels. Something about him made it look so effortless too. He was like a mix of Adrian Peterson and Randy Moss. And they were all on the same team at one point with Brett Favre. That’s pretty cool.

  23. Anyone with migraines should find a good “rolfer” in your area.

    Miracle worker on all kinds of physical issues. I was told my back needed surgery – PT, pain killers, nothing worked.

    10 rolfing sessions later I’m the best I’ve been in 20 years. My sister had the same results with migraines.

    Google it.

  24. Anxiety is a real problem coupled with migraines. Slaute to him for being able to speak about it.

  25. Jerry McGwire “you know about all the pressures and problems that come with 50 million?”

  26. Percy Harvin’s flashes were like football poetry. He was so twitchy that I think it cost him durability though. He had a great game in SB 48. He might’ve been MVP if it wasn’t for the dismantling of Manning’s greatest offense in NFL history by the Seahawks defense.

  27. I didn’t read anywhere that Harvin blamed football or the NFL for his problems. His problems predated the NFL and made it difficult to be fully involved in the game. Being center-stage and making a ton of money doesn’t solve problems, it often creates them or makes them worse. Look how messed up Michael Jackson and Elvis were.

    Famous actors, actresses and comedians suffer from stage fright, panic attacks, migraines, depression, etc. often times these problems are present before they hit it big and success didn’t cure them. Have a little compassion. comparing one person’s situation is pointless, you can only deal with your own baggage.

  28. Stress can manifest itself with physical symptoms — some extreme as was the case with Percy.

    Of course the #1 cause of stress was being drafted by the Vikings.

  29. As a Seahawks fan I will forever be grateful for the kick off return TD in the Superbowl. That sealed the game and gave us the win!

    To all the idiots saying “yeah but you traded so much to get him”… Who cares! Seeing the Hawks win it all once was worth the decades of futility leading up to it (just ask Eagles fans).

    Goodluck with you future endeavors and thanks for the big time TD!

  30. When the guy does an interview for a local Seattle news station during training camp and he is glowing while telling the reporter that Pete told him to just practice every other day but he had practiced 2 days in a row…….I spit up my burrito and said ‘it’s over for Harvin in Seattle’!

  31. Mental illness is a bitch. Anxiety and depression don’t care about your bank account or your station in life. Here’s to you Percy. Being able to accomplish any kind of football career with mental health issues and migraines is admirable. Good luck going forward.

  32. Lol…. I remember when the coach of the Vikings was bragging how he was able to snag Percy ahead of B.B. & the Patriots….. too funny!!!

  33. bondlake says:
    June 30, 2018 at 6:53 am
    Try joining the Marines as an 18-year old kid, Percy.

    Then getting your ass sent to Iraq, where it can be 130 degrees in the sun and then dealing with your buddies having their limbs blown off. And all this for $20K a year.
    ————
    In the U.S. all those things are a choice. When was the last draft? Anyone can go to community college for free or close to it or get an entry level job for $20k or more. We all make choices in life and I’m pro-military but it’s a really childish attitude to make sacrifices no one forced you to and then expect attention. Most of us try to maximize our opportunities and this guy had a special skill for football and pursued his career while dealing with health issues. Now he’s speaking out (and being honest about his faults). Good for him.

  34. Migraines hurt but they can be dealt with. Turn off the lights, lay down, take some caffeine, & count your million$. Hard to feel bad for this guy.

  35. Lot’s of jealous people in here bemoaning the miserable lives that THEY created for themselves. Harvin lived his dream and got well compensated for it. My advice for these saps is to choose a goal and go get it. You will find out that migraines and other issues will probably come with it. Living that ‘everyman’ life is a soft business; it must really suck living a purposesless life. Now go get your toolbox and fix the wood panneled station wagon.

  36. It amazes me how a guy who quit on his team and refused to go in a game for the Seahawks is now being pitied. He was a total jerk. But now it’s all ohhh poor Percy. I’m sorry but I don’t forget a guy’s character once the NFL decides to no longer hand him money for the ‘potential’.

  37. The guy might have been the biggest reason Seattle only won one Bowl. The team was stacked full of grindstone work your way up true blue Seahawks and this clown pranced in, got massive cash thrown at him and never even practiced. Golden Tate wouldn’t have been let go if the Percy Project had been swallowed.

  38. A Doctor told me one panic attack is like running an entire marathon in it’s toll on the body. Playing in the NFL is hard enough without dealing with that mess. Glad he’s feeling better.

  39. wabbitslayer says:

    June 30, 2018 at 8:20 am

    If he thinks the stress of getting paid millions to run around with a little brown ball is unbelievable, just wait until he has to get up every morning, go to an actual job all day, come home, raise a family, fix the car, put food on the table, and juggle the bills when he’s not really even paid enough to get it done?

    Such a tragedy. My heart weeps for him.

    ===============================

    This is my favorite part of any comment section. You go and look at all the posts from people who only read the headline and not the actual article.

  40. Some guys are just not cut out for professional sports, its a tough business. He sure got some nice paydays out of it, anyway.

  41. His migraine and anxiety issues were well known by the Viking organization during his tenure and the team did all they could to get him healthy. There have been numerous players on the Vikings with mental health and physical issues, but if you ask those that were on the staff when Harvin was there, no other player treated them worse or was more difficult to deal with. I wonder if now that he’s found peace if he’s talked with those people?

  42. bondlake says:
    June 30, 2018 at 6:53 am
    Try joining the Marines as an 18-year old kid, Percy.

    Then getting your ass sent to Iraq, where it can be 130 degrees in the sun and then dealing with your buddies having their limbs blown off. And all this for $20K a year.

    Why don’t you just shut up?

    —————-

    Nobody was drafted and forced to fight in those senseless wars. Why don’t the idiots too dumb to realize they are just cannon fodder for the military industrial complex just shut up about it instead?

  43. I thought for sure he was going to be a huge NFL star, HOF career, leading WR in the league, all that. After all, Childress flew down to FL pre-draft and came back to pronounce him a star in the making.

    Turns out both Chilly and Harvin had but a few shining moments only to disappear from the NFL spotlight, sort of like the Viking’s Superbowl chances.

  44. I’ve suffered similarly and even worse. Unless you go through it, there’s no way to understand. It’s a horror story. A nightmare with no end in sight. I wish him the best. GOD bless.

  45. Harvin wasted his opportunity to be great. There are medications for migraines. A good friend of mine gets them and has a little pill to stop them from being severe. There are also medications that are effective for anxiety. Anyway, he got paid a lot of money over his short time in the NFL and should be set for life if he didn’t manage to blow it all.

  46. The military industrial complex! Lol. When Bush is judged 100 years from now he’ll be celebrated. Iraqis now walk the streets without fear. You walk your streets without fear. Afghanistan is dangerous but you can literally fly in to Kabul on Afghan Airlines(Kam Air) which wouldn’t be possible before. If it was al gore right about now Al Quida would be a power house. Because we live in a time of instant we couldn’t see the long range view.

  47. seahawk77 says:
    June 30, 2018 at 8:44 am
    In every sense of the word….Headcase

    —————————————————————————————-

    You are the headcase. Because you have no idea how horrible it is to suffer from panic attacks, or anxiety attacks, or sleep deprivation. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. No matter what you do, you feel as if you are suffocating. No matter what anyone says to you, it doesn’t help. You feel like you are all alone in the world and there’s no hope for you. It’s not uncommon for people who suffer from this to contemplate suicide.
    I know exactly how Percy felt because I’ve had the same problems. I am so glad he feels better. I am still struggling with it and it is exhausting and really takes you to your knees.
    Good luck to you Percy and thanks for sharing what you went through with everyone. There are millions of people who have the same problem and by you speaking out, it might help other people. And it will (maybe) enlighten some others who are uninformed or are just too ignorant to care.

  48. shlort says No two people are exactly the same. A med for one may be completely ineffective for another. Most often meds for anxiety take a long long trial and error time to find one that does gove relief. But it’s also often just some relief…not a cure. Not everyone gets the same effect from migraines too. My best friend is now trying the ear piercing bc meds have not helped her. Also every medication has other side effects. Some more severe than for others. You can trade one problem for another. He’s happy now…isn’t that what matters? He didn’t give up a great career and millions bc he was so happy and content.

  49. I use to think people who complained about migraines were weak and whiney. Then I had one. Absolutely debilitating and unforgiving experience. And anxiety, the days upon days it would hit me with the scariest feelings of death and I had no idea why. Still cant explain it, but its a terrible feeling. Be the best athlete you can be and make as many millions as you can, these conditions are not bias by class. No boundaries and sometimes you gotta live with them with no explanation of how or why.

  50. I understand what you guys are saying but if he was really that bad he should not have been playing football.

    An entire city counting on you for Super Bowl glory and you have anxiety disorder panic attacks and migraines? Seems like the wrong line of work for a person with that affliction to me.

    oh he made 50 million dollars. Never mind I get it now.

  51. monosodium glutamate is migraine trigger / catalyst. it is naturally produced in fish sauce, and many other flavor enhancement products.

    salt is best used only in small quantites if at all.

    fermented condiments should be limited.

    get well soon percy!

  52. ddmcd1974 says:

    June 30, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    The military industrial complex! Lol. When Bush is judged 100 years from now he’ll be celebrated. Iraqis now walk the streets without fear. You walk your streets without fear. Afghanistan is dangerous but you can literally fly in to Kabul on Afghan Airlines(Kam Air) which wouldn’t be possible before. If it was al gore right about now Al Quida would be a power house. Because we live in a time of instant we couldn’t see the long range view.
    ————————-
    You only know what your TV tells you. lol

  53. Harvin was treated at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Mn for his migraines. He said in a recent piece in SI that he enjoyed his time in Minnesota the best. It was because of a personal member in the front office understood what he was going through and was helpful.

  54. Having had to deal with migraine headaches from 12 yrs old you can’t wish that on an enemy. When one takes hold you are useless, can’t do anything but get in a dark room, get as cold as possible and try to fall asleep. When you are lucky you fall asleep and wake up able to stand. Think of your worst hangover ever and that headache may almost compare.

    Good Luck Percy, should have a SB if favre doesn’t choke that across the body throw to porter. Percy and Favre were a good match for one short year.

  55. That’s why marijuana should be removed from the banned substance list. When Percy was smoking his production was up. Even he admits it.

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