Lions’ WR Coach: Isolation, Not Concussions Kill Former NFL Players
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Lions receiver coach Shawn Jefferson doesn’t think concussions are triggering the recent rash of suicides among former players. This particular manifestation of depression, he believes, is borne out of the alienation players feel when they leave the game.
“It’s not the depression that kills you,” said Jefferson, who was a teammate with the late Junior Seau in San Diego. “It’s trying to make that transition to real life without that support group you’ve had in place your whole career. The depression is a result of not being around your guys anymore; that’s what kills you.
“The depression comes about because you don’t have that structure any more. You aren’t walking into that locker room and chatting with your locker mates. You’re not in that fire on Sunday with those guys. You are at the door knocking, but nobody will let you in. You don’t have that sense of purpose. For guys who retire, there is a dark side to that transition period.”
Jefferson speaks from experience. He thought his post-football life would be great. He had saved and invested his money wisely. He had a young family to tend to. He figured he could happily live out his days fishing and, as he put it, “living the salt life.”
A year into it, he was struggling. The void, the absence of the game and all of its attending structures, became increasingly unbearable for him.
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