“How Do I Protect My Mental Health As A Football Player … And Still Get What I Want?” | Antonio Brown Opens Up On Podcast

(Photo: Screensho/I Am Athlete Podcast)

Mental health has been the topic of discussion ever since then Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown took of his pads and left MetLife Stadium in the middle of a game. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Tom Brady both said they wanted Brown to get the “help he needs.” It seems like Brown is ready to talk about it publicly, as a teaser video for his appearance on the “I Am Athlete” podcast is blowing up the internet.

“Why every time something happens bad, or how someone reacts, ‘Aw, he’s crazy, there’s something wrong with his mental health,’” Brown says in the episode. “There’s nothing wrong with my mental health. Someone told me to get the f–k out of here. I’m not passive-aggressive.”

The full episode drops on Jan. 24, but it’s evident in this clip that AB still maintains that he was being forced to play while injured, and when he refused Arians kicked him off the team.

“An NFL Super Bowl team coach told a guy on the team who’s playing hurt ‘get the f–k out of here,’” Brown said.

The video teases what could be an interesting conversation, if AB actually goes in depth. Anytime you have a podcast with big personalities, it can go off the rails in a hurry. The podcast is hosted by former NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall and there is a lot of talking over one another going on in this teaser.

One thing that came through clearly is there is still stigma and confusion around the term mental health. AB says, “aw, he’s crazy, there’s something wrong with his mental health,” when describing the public reaction to him leaving the stadium.

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We need to eliminate the word crazy when we are talking about mental health. Popular culture and our misuse of language have connected mental health and crazy in a way that is extremely dangerous.

Mentalhealth.gov defines mental health as:

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

The American Psychiatric Association defines mental illness as:

Health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.

Everyone has mental health, and we can be in good or poor mental health. Not everyone has a diagnosed mental illness. The distinctions are very important.

Crazy is not relevant here.

Only a clinical professional can make a mental illness diagnosis just as a cardiologist would for a heart condition, or an oncologist for cancer.

Crazy is not an official medical diagnosis.

As it relates to AB, the situation with the Bucs and Arians obviously impacted him and made him feel some kind of way. How? Only he can answer that, and maybe he will in the episode.

Football is the ultimate conformist sport. There are so many moving parts on the field and within the professional dynamic that individuals must adhere to somewhat strict guidelines. The consequences for failing to do so are often unforgiving.

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Maintaining good mental health within the professional football dynamic is a challenge. Players have to cede control to head coaches and organizations. In order to do that, and for the ceding of control to be effective, there has to be trust built.

Given AB’s position on his injury, and Arians’ insistence that he didn’t know AB was injured, it seems there is a trust issue here.

The trailer ends with AB asking a very important question that hopefully gets answered.

“How do I maintain my mental health as a football player, and still keep my integrity, to get what I want?” AB asks.

How indeed, AB?

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