|KC Chief's Linebacker Jovan Belcher|
The Jovan Belcher murder/suicide has really struck a cord for me, and I feel strongly that it's time the NFL makes a choice to step up and better protect their players from this type of tragedy repeating it's self.
What's interesting to me is that Belcher had the presence of mind to go and tell his coach "thank you" for all he had done for him, before he killed himself. For some reason this makes sense to me, knowing how players think and operate. I read a blog where the writer was
criticizing this move as him going to "thank his God" meaning the coach, and wasting those last words on a coach instead of his family. That's not it at all, in my view. If a player has a good relationship with his coach then that is in all reality the most important relationship in his life, more than likely. It's a nurturing, pushing, profound role coaches play in the life of a player. For many players they become detached form the other people in their life when they are in the league, even family. Those relationships change dramatically when they begin making money etc. So the role of a coach is often the most important. For him to feel the need to leave an in person suicide note with his coach, as it were, makes sense and means he had the presence of mind to understand that the biggest part of his life, wasn't reason enough to not snap. They live in an isolated pressure-cooker of expectations, physical demands that are ridiculous, lack of sleep, loss of genuine people in their life, add money to that picture and it can be a deadly combination.
All I can think about is what must have got him to that point? What was he dealing with that perhaps he felt he had to keep inside and not get help in dealing with? Of course I don't know this guy at all or what his history is/was or if he had help, all I can go off is the conversations I've had with dozens of men in positions like his. I know that many times, I'm one of the only people they feel they can open up and confide in. This is why I love what I do so much, because of the trust and the opportunity I've been given to help take some of that stress away, and give them advise, help, and a listening ear, one that is always going to give them the truth. I see how much they need it, and I wish that more players would reach out and get Life Coaches, or Therapists, or go to church or whatever means they need to have someone they can talk to, and get help with some of the issues they face, in an environment that is safe and built on mutual trust.
I feel that this, and the other stories like it the past few years should be a serious wake-up call to the NFL. The League needs to enforce mental health therapy as a preventative measure and as an ongoing part of being a player in the league. Will players complain? You bet! Will they think it's soft and ridiculous? Probably. Get over it! If the organization as a whole, mandated that players see some type of person they can talk to (therapist, priest, life coach, minister, counselor whatever) on a weekly basis then maybe these types of erratic explosions and loss of life would be minimized. Maybe that person could have caught that he was dealing with extra stress or was "out of it" as one report suggested after his last game (and too many direct hits to the head, suggested the report). A player can report to practice after suffering some heavy blows in a game and "appear fine", it's not the coaches responsibility to have in depth one on one conversations with these guys. However if it was mandatory that the day after a game (or any time really, but weekly) they check in with their "professional" for a weekly discussion, then maybe that person would be able to pick up on the behavior change.
But without that, what mechanisms are in place to prevent this type of thing from happening again?
NFL, Owner and Coaches... ask yourself that.
|Tragic ending for a beautiful family|
I had to share this comment that was left tonight on my Instagram (@sarahcentrella) about this blog post. As you can see from the comments below, my views are not popular. I stand by my strong belief that more can be done to provide these players with tools to better deal with the pressure of their life, and just maybe it could help prevent another tragedy. By all accounts Jovan seemed to be a "good guy" which means that this can happen to anyone... he wasn't a serial killer. He didn't seem to have a dark and brooding past, he'd never been physically violent before... this means that anyone has the potential to snap under this type of pressure.
Why not provide them with better tools?
Why not enforce the use of those resources?
What's the harm in it?
Thanks for your comments and keep them coming, a good debate means that this is a sore subject which means it's time to have it addressed head on, that's all I'm hoping to do, raise awareness.
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~Written by: Sarah Centrella for Thoughts.Stories.Life.
*This is an interactive blog please leave your comments and thoughts, I will respond :)