NFL

Jermichael Finley wants to stop ‘silence and shame’ around mental health

As someone who has battled with mental health himself, Jermichael Finley is here to help raise awareness.

When it comes to dealing with depression and anxiety, Jermichael Finley wants NFL players to feel comfortable seeking the help they need.

After Finley’s career was cut short due to a spinal fusion surgery, the Super Bowl-winning tight end sunk into a deep depression. The only thing he ever knew in life was over, for good, and figuring out that next step was troubling.

“My family grabbed ahold of me and said ‘look, you have a long life to live, football is done get over it,’” Finley told FanSided’s Mark Carman. “So I got over it, went out there and it was like a newborn baby. I felt like I was reborn again, it was crazy.”

Finley began going through programs with Pure Sports Recovery, a treatment center based in California specializing in neuroscience recovery and brain optimization for athletes. On his first visit after going through tests it was discovered that 44 percent of Finley’s brain was dysfunctional.

“Just imagine if I cut half your head off and pushed you out in the world and told you to go figure it out,” Finley said. “You can’t, you’re going to screw up somehow.”

Fortunately for Finley, he did not fall into the category of “screwing it up,” that’s credited to him not wanting to have to ask people for money like he had to growing up. The thought of that alone was enough keep him from going down the wrong path once his career was over.

However, many NFL players are not as lucky as Finley. It’s become a common occurrence that once an NFL player’s career is over and they’re left with so much free time they turn to the wrong things to fill up their days.

“Figuring out what’s next is the hard part because they didn’t teach you how to handle money in college,” Finley said. “Guys take so much until they put a gun up to their head or domestic violence or get caught with drugs or drunk driving,” Finley said. “Don’t let it get that far.”

Although it’s a slow battle to open up the conversation surrounding mental health with professional athletes, Finley, just like many other athletes, is leading the way by starting the dialogue.

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