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.”