Mental health in the NFL and at Hidden Valley


Andrew Luck after playing football

Madeline Hippeard, Reporter


Mental health has gained a negative reputation in the media, causing ESPN and other popular news channels to avoid talking about it and its effects on people, particularly professional athletes and other celebrities, because they don’t want to make them seem weak and unprofessional. When Mr. Cundiff, the schools life counselor, was asked why he thought ESPN refused to speak out about the mental health of athletes he said “it changes the narrative of the story their trying to tell.” The narrative ESPN is trying to tell people is that athletes are “tough, champions, winners and that everything related to mental health signifies weakness and inability to hang in when things are going tough,” said Mr. Cundiff; “And that it’s difficult for people like that [professional athletes] to admit that they have a problem that they can’t deal with because then all of a sudden they’re not as tough as they’re supposed to be.”

On March 24, 2019, Rob Gronkowski, former tight end for the New England Patriots, announced his retirement from the game. “I needed to recover. I was not in a good place; football was bringing me down and I didn’t like it, I was losing that joy in life,” he said in a press conference when asked about his retirement. “I needed to walk away because I needed to do what’s best for myself,” he continued. “I’m not retired from life. I want the joy in life again, I want the passion in life again.” Over the past 9 years in the NFL, Gronkowski faced multiple injuries that brought much physical and emotional pain. Currently, he is partnered with CBDMEDIC to overcome these physical pains “for the first time in more than a decade, I am pain free and that’s a big deal.” This is an “opportunity for myself to take care of my health, to take care of my body; mentally and physically,” Gronkowski said.

On August 26, 2019, Andrew Luck, former quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, also announced his retirement from the game. “I’ve been stuck in this process. I haven’t been able to live the life I want to live,” he said during his news conference. “It’s very difficult; I love this team, I love my teammates, the folks in our building, the folks in this building, the fans, the game of football, and as part of this team, as a member of this team, and because of how I feel, I know that I am unable to pour my heart and soul into this position, which would not only sell myself short but the team in the end as well,” he continued. “I’m in pain. I’m still in pain. I’ve been in this cycle. It’s been four years of this injury-pain cycle. For me to move forward in my life the way I want to, it didn’t involve football.” “It’s been tiring. I feel tired,” said Luck “and not just in the physical sense.”

After hearing of the mental states of his fellow players, Justin Pugh, offensive guard for the Arizona Cardinals, said “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.” Continuing he said, “The mental side of the NFL has been ignored for so long,” “It’s us as athletes breaking that stigma that we can talk about mental health,” said Pugh. “No one wants to show any weakness.”

In Hidden Valley, there are students in every class struggling with the same things Gronkowski and Luck are struggling with. In everyday conversation, mental health is widely ignored, despite the impact it has on people. Mental health must be talked about in order to prevent the stigma that having mental health issues makes one weak. Students at Hidden Valley should not be ashamed of the state of their mental health and what they have to do in order to help themselves, and neither should anybody else, including professional athletes in the NFL.