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Ryan Leaf says NFL ‘doesn’t care’ about mental health of players after Vincent Jackson found dead 


Former San Diego Chargers Quarterback Ryan Leaf posted an emotional video on Monday in which he said the NFL ‘doesn’t care’ about the mental health of players.

Leaf, 44, posted the video to Twitter after former Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson, 38, was found dead earlier this week in a Florida hotel room by a housekeeper.

Officials said there were no apparent signs of trauma, and an investigation has been opened by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

A cause of death will be determined by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office.

‘I don’t know what the f**k to do anymore. My NFL brothers continue to die and nobody is doing a godd**n thing about it,’ Leaf said in the video.

Leaf posted a video to Twitter in which he condemned the NFL for not doing more for the mental health of former players

Leaf condemned the league and said 'My NFL brothers continue to die and nobody is doing a godd**n thing about it'

Leaf condemned the league and said ‘My NFL brothers continue to die and nobody is doing a godd**n thing about it’

The NFL posted about former Chargers and Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson on Monday

The NFL posted about former Chargers and Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson on Monday

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating Jackson's death after his body was found at a Homewood Suites

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Jackson’s death after his body was found at a Homewood Suites

Jackson was reported missing by his family and subsequently contacted by police in the days before he was discovered dead.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office officials said his family initially reported Jackson missing last Wednesday. Two days later, deputies tracked him down to his hotel and spoke with him before canceling the missing persons case.

Jackson was found dead at a Homewood Suites in the Tampa suburb of Brandon days after the welfare check. 

Leaf, who has often been outspoken about the mental health and addiction problems faced by the former professional athletes, said that he spoke with another ex-NFL player earlier on Monday who had spent the weekend ‘in a psych ward.’

‘The NFL just doesn’t f**king care. They don’t care. They’ll write condolence letters and s**t like that,’ Leaf said.

He said that if the NFL wanted to invest in its former players it would ‘put some money’ into the NFL Legends Community – a resource that provides professional development and health benefits services to players transitioning to life outside of the league.

‘Once you’re bad for the brand, the shield, they could give two s**ts. I don’t know what the hell to do. They don’t get how precious life is, then I have this f**king survivor’s guilt,’ Leaf said. 

Jackson, of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, leaves the field after play against the Atlanta Falcons on November 17, 2013

Jackson, of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, leaves the field after play against the Atlanta Falcons on November 17, 2013

Jackson's family had filed a missing person's report, which was canceled after he was found and spoke with cops before his death

Jackson’s family had filed a missing person’s report, which was canceled after he was found and spoke with cops before his death

Jackson, center, is pictured at MacDill Air Force Base on December 11, 2012, in Tampa, Florida

Jackson, center, is pictured at MacDill Air Force Base on December 11, 2012, in Tampa, Florida

Leaf captioned the video: ‘I don’t know who needs to hear this, or if I just needed to say it, but I will not continue to stand by and watch my brothers disappear because the multibillion $$ corporation won’t do the right thing.’

According to a 2018 report from Harvard researchers in the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, many players ‘reported feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, loneliness, and stress during and after their time on the field.’

In 2019, the NFL and its player’s union announced the league would require every team to employ a mental health professional, ESPN reported. The league also said it would create a mental health and wellness committee and a joint pain management committee.

The committees created by the 2019 initiative would develop educational programs on mental health for players, including collaborating with ‘local and national mental health and suicide prevention organizations to reduce stigma related to mental health and promote suicide prevention and awareness.’

Ahead of the 2020 season, the NFL and NFLPA shared the educational materials with clubs in the league to ‘destigmatize mental healthcare’, according to a press release.

Dr. Nyaka NiiLampti, NFL vice president of wellness and clinical services, said last year: ‘Mental health resources have been there for a long time.’

‘But what this behavioral health initiative has done is to put it at the forefront [of player care],’ he said.

Leaf has often been an advocate against addiction for NFL players. Earlier this month he wrote about how his ‘selfishness’ and his ‘addiction’ affected everyone around him.

‘I’m going to make da*n sure my recovery does the same. No need to be ashamed, we all have a story. You can’t keep it unless you give it away. #soberlife #ittakeswhatittakes #igotyourback,’ Leaf tweeted.

Leaf, who was the second overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, now provides college football and NFL analysis for SiriusXM.

His football career was cut short after negative headlines and bad behavior, including blowing up at a reporter on camera. He lost his starting quarterback job at the end of his rookie season, he was released from the Chargers two years later.

Leaf signed with Tampa Bay in 2001 but was released by the Buccaneers before season even started, and then signed with the Dallas Cowboys but only appeared in four games before he was released again at the end of the season.

Ryan, center, was the starting quarterback for the Chargers before he was released for his behavior

Ryan, center, was the starting quarterback for the Chargers before he was released for his behavior

Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf is seen in a police booking photo April 2, 2012 in Great Falls, Montana

Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf is seen in a police booking photo April 2, 2012 in Great Falls, Montana

He later developed an addiction to the painkiller Vicodin, which he told KCBS-TV was prescribed to him after a series of surgeries including one to treat a brain tumor. 

‘I looked up ways to kill yourself on Google,’ said Leaf. ‘And I used a knife to do the ultimate thing.’

Leaf has been arrested several times since 2009, pleading guilty to felony burglary and drug possession in Montana in 2012 for which he served time in a state prison.

Last May, he was arrested for domestic battery in Palm Desert, California and recently pleaded guilty, ESPN reported. 



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