On February 15, all of the NFL community woke up to the news of Vincent Jackson’s demise. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer was found dead in his hotel room in Florida. Jackson’s family speculates alcoholism and CTE as the primary reasons behind his death. On that very night, former quarterback Ryan Leaf posted an emotional video on his Twitter account. He pointed out the various discrepancies in the organization’s way of functioning.
In that moving cry for help, Ryan leaf pled the NFL to do something to save his “brothers”. Conversely, he believes that not enough is being done to take care of legends and retired NFL players. His concern is not something out of the blue, as many independent studies have pointed out the same. According to CNBC, 78% of all retired NFL players have gone bankrupt two years after retirement.
Ryan Leaf’s impassioned concern for his brethren
In the video he shared, the former Charger expressed his concern for all the retired NFL players. He added that the billion-dollar organization should channel more funds towards curbing mental illness and substance abuse in former players.
Moreover, the average life expectancy of an NFL player is only 53-59 years. This is considerably lower than 78 years, which is the average life expectancy of an American Male.
“I don’t know what to do anymore,” Leaf says. “My NFL brothers continue to die and … nobody’s doing a goddamn thing about it. The NFL just doesn’t care. They don’t care. They’ll write condolence letters and s**t like that, but if they were invested, they’d actually put some money behind the Legends community and the mental health and substance abuse side of it. Once you’re bad for the brand, the ‘Shield,’ they could give two s**ts.”
Other players come out in support of Leaf’s statement
Vincent Jackson’s death has sown the seeds of significant upheaval in the functioning of the NFL. The video of a teary-eyed Ryan Leaf talking about the plight of his fellow players started a discussion amongst other players. Will Blackmon and Greg Camarillo showed their support and pledged to do their bit in this crisis.
Any pro athlete who is stuck, or mentally feels lost with life after their professional HIT ME UP!
I’m a resilient MF’er.
I am here to listen and help.
— Will Blackmon 🍷 (@WillBlackmon) February 16, 2021
The reason why Jackson’s death struck a chord with Leaf is that he went through a similar traumatic phase in 2014. Leaf had his struggles with mental health and substance abuse which led to recurring arrests. He was also sentenced to prison for a short period of time.
Since that dark time, Leaf has worked continuously to help other former players come out of similar phases.
According to him, setting up phone numbers does not help people to the extent he wants. What he means by helping people is getting on a plane and being there for them. Showing them that there are people who care.