New York Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall’s message on mental illness hits home with NFL owners.
Brandon Marshall has long been an advocate for mental health, especially in regards to how mental health issues affect athletes. In March, Marshall spoke powerfully to NFL owners and coaches at their annual meeting.
Initially declining the league’s invitation to speak at the event, Marshall eventually relented and decided to share his truth…and everyone involved is thankful he did.
“You could’ve heard a pin drop in the room,” Giants owner John Mara told in a phone interview. “The way Brandon was so frank and direct about his mental health issues in his life resonated with everyone in the room. He immediately helped humanize players more, which helped articulate that this business is about more than football or making money.
“Of all the presentations at the owners (meetings), his stood out the most. In 15 minutes, he raised our consciousness to the reality of an issue.”
Marshall shared the story of his own mental illness, including his struggles prior to being diagnosed, which led to numerous run-ins with the law. Those included public disputes with his wife, Michi, and a one-game suspension from the league after a 2008 domestic violence arrest.
Marshall’s most poignant message was that the sports world and society need to accept mental illness as a disease and take the necessary steps toward removing the stigma often attached to the taboo issue.
Marshall says he’s received contact from several owners looking to gain additional insight into his story, in hopes to garner more of an understanding of mental health issues when it comes to players.
“It’s been phenomenal,” Marshall said of the response he’s received. “What I’ve found is that when you’re real, people come out of the woodwork. I remember in 2011, when I first left McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, I told everyone, ‘this is what I’ve been dealing with.’ Then I had a teammate pull me aside to say, ‘thank you, I suffer from bipolar disorder. You just gave me the courage to be braver and deal with this.’ I do think, being an NFL player, whenever you’re able to be vulnerable with what you deal with, there’s a power to that.”
Like most things in life, the more people are willing to be vulnerable and speak openly and honestly, the more understanding may be gleaned. Also, when people like Marshall realize the power behind their stories, it gives others the courage to speak out and lend support.
Source: USA Today