Justin Pugh: Time to talk about NFL players’ mental health

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As Cardinals guard Justin Pugh took questions from reporters today about training camp practices and preseason games, he urged them to talk about something more important.

“You guys don’t want to talk about what’s next for NFL players,” Pugh said. “You just want to talk about what’s coming up with the opponent. No one’s worried about the mental health of our guys. We’ve got Rob Gronkowski crying on ESPN. You guys don’t want to talk about that.”

Responding to Gronk saying he was “not in a good place” as a result of the injuries he suffered over the course of his NFL career, and Andrew Luck retiring because of the pain of multiple injuries, Pugh said everyone in and around the NFL has a responsibility to talk about the mental challenges of playing the game.

“The mental side of the NFL has been ignored for so long,” Pugh said. “I bet you if you go on to the Twitter world, you’re going to see all these guys saying, ‘Andrew Luck is soft, or Andrew Luck is this and that.’ Those same guys have their friends killing themselves right now. Guys in the NFL, instead of dealing with these issues, are killing themselves. So we obviously have to have a conversation about it, because if we can’t be forward, then those things are going to continue to happen.”

Pugh said he hopes NFL players can be leaders in showing the importance of talking about mental health.

“It’s us as athletes breaking that stigma, that we can talk about mental health,” Pugh said. “It’s across all aspects of life, though. I don’t want to say regular civilian life, but like, my family, we don’t talk about how you’re feeling and things like that. A lot of families don’t. Like when you sit down at the kitchen table, how often do you guys [ask], ‘How are you feeling today? What are your emotions like today?’ It’s not something [common]. I think it’s more of an American problem, and it gets magnified because we play such a macho game. No one wants to show any weakness.”

Pugh raises a valid point, and one that ought to be a focal point for people in and around the NFL.

24 responses to “Justin Pugh: Time to talk about NFL players’ mental health

  1. I personally know a few former NFL players and, while most don’t regret the experience, most would not encourage their children to follow in their footsteps. A former running back I know posted his mri pic after he had to retire because of injury. It was jaw dropping when you saw all the metal braces and rods holding his body together. Yes the money is good for some. But not all! And every one of those guys has to live the rest of their life with the
    injuries they incurred. For 60 to 70 percent of the players it’s a bum deal!

  2. It’s time to talk about professional movers mental health.
    It’s time to talk about teachers mental health.
    It’s time to talk about corrections officers mental health.

    C’mon, mental or physical health, it’s incumbent upon the individual to seek healthcare.
    Seems like the insured multi-millionaires could lead the way.

  3. Every player has health insurance, THEY can pay for a psychiatrist to talk to.
    Why is it that if a player farts, somehow the NFL has to do something about it?
    Is the NFLPA doing ANYTHING at all to help players health, physical, mental, or otherwise? Nope, De Smith and the NFLPA only cares about union dues getting paid.

  4. It’s take you’re CTE like a man. But seriously takes a Man to stand up, ask a question, or make a statement no one else will. My thought three days ago was the NFL needs Andrew Luck, and guys like Andrew Luck, way more Andrew Luck needs the NFL. Smart, articulate, funny, and willing to do what they believe in, those are the Andrew Lucks I’m talking about. Now the ‘Pac Man Jones’ of the world need the NFL and the NFL needs them!! And the Baker Mayfield’s too.

  5. i understand where these players are coming from.. I do… I understand that they give their body up for millions of dollars a year… I also understand that I am a blue collar worker who has been in pain for the last 20+ years in my life… i build when the heat index is 115 +… i work and build when the wind chill is 05 degrees… i have to work… because i need a check to feed my family!!! i do not feel sorry. i will post this and still have to do my job in any condition! I would give my body anyday of the week to make millions to make sure my family is taken care of!!!

  6. garyfromaccountsreceiveable says:
    August 27, 2019 at 7:49 pm
    It’s time to talk about professional movers mental health.
    It’s time to talk about teachers mental health.
    It’s time to talk about corrections officers mental health.

    C’mon, mental or physical health, it’s incumbent upon the individual to seek healthcare.
    Seems like the insured multi-millionaires could lead the way.

    As someone that’s worked in corrections since ’02, mental health is very real. Seeing the ugliness that people are capable of everyday, non-volutary overtime, extremely high divorce rate because of you’re never there. It can take a heavy mental toll,and that’s just in my profession, the constant physical toll of an NFL career must be brutal. Money is great and all, but piece of mind is priceless.

  7. The nastiest 10,000 fans who think the players should suffer and play for their amusement and that teachers or corrections officers have ANYTHING to do with the entertainment business of professional football should find something else to occupy themselves.

    I’d suggest MMA. Those guys really get beaten down for your working class dollars.

    The NFL won’t miss you at all.

  8. I think all of us “working men” would walk away from our job at age 29 if we made Andrew Luck money. He hit the lottery through hard work. We didn’t. I have no grudge toward him at age 61.

  9. If you can’t take it, then retire as a multi-millionaire.

    Lets face it – if you have earned several million, you are set for life provided you take care of your money. You have a choice. You don’t have to do this for 20+ years like 90% of everyone else has to. The parent working a crap job to pay the rent and put food on the table is under a lot more stress than an athlete. They can’t quit.

  10. It might be time to check on a rookie’s mental health. Perhaps check the rookie’s mental health before he gets drafted.

  11. What puzzles me most, is how any man on the planet can have an opinion on what another man chooses to do with his life.

    I respect Andrew Lucks decision…
    I reapect the guy thats working hsrd to feed his family..
    I respect the guy that walks away from a job, because he isnt happy with it..

    These are INDIVIDUAL choices….

    No man should ever judge another man on what he thinks the other person is doing right or wrong with their life.

  12. Football is a rough sport, it ALWAYS has been. That’s why WE like watching it. IF you CHOOSE to play the game for extreme WEALTH that’s a choice. You don’t have to play the game, you can sit at a desk processing widgets, or sell something, or go to work for yourself. STOP whining about playing a brutal sport AFTER you’ve made 10, 20, 30, 100 MILLION dollars!

  13. Playing football is a personal choice. Most players have a college education and should be able to have a good career after playing or without playing at all. If you choose to play and decide how long you play then you accept the responsibility for your own actions. Do not came back later and cry about it. Now I get in the past players did not know so much about some of the dangers. But now there is no reason not to know what they are doing and what to look for. IF you choose to continue it is on the individual and nobody else.

    The are many jobs that pay much less that are just as dangerous or more. A coal miner knows he is getting black lung from coal dust while working 12 hours a day. He makes less in a year than the lowest paid NFL player does in a month. But he has no choice but to work every day until his lungs die and so does he. So please do not talk about the pains of football which is a complete choice when people around this country die daily in hard working jobs just to feed their families out of need.

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