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Responses to the Brandon Marshall/Mental Health Awareness Column

| October 16th, 2013

NFL: New York Giants at Chicago Bears

Yes I am spending a third day at the DBB focused on the piece I wrote Monday regarding Brandon Marshall’s green cleats, the NFL fine and the league’s embarrassing mental health record. If you haven’t had an opportunity to read a rare piece of journalism from this part of the internet world, please CLICK HERE and do so.

Why a third day? Because I believe it wrong to succumb to the 24-hour news cycle and let a piece I am proud of and truly believe in be swept into the “yesterday’s news” category. And the responses I’ve received from a wide range of individuals leads to believe the column had a nice impact. So, really, what’s one more day? Could I really make a larger impact with this week’s installment of Audibles From the Long Snapper? (This week’s game preview will be posted first thing Thursday morning.)

Responses have been wonderful and what follows are some of the responses I’ve personally received. Please feel free to send along yours to jeff@dabearsblog.com.

From Dr. James Scully, former head of the American Psychiatric Association:

“Really well done…great piece..dead on target”

From Pat, a reader and friend:

First, regarding mental illness generally, as someone who has at various points been part of a support network (both by volition and necessity) for friends suffering from mental illness, I can attest that these illnesses are both extremely complex to diagnose and vary widely. Many people who seek treatment are misdiagnosed, or the treatments are simply not very effective for them.  The brain’s chemistry is extremely complex and the triggers for different individuals are different. How do you explain why someone suffering from a mental illness may recognize me as someone comfortable and trustworthy as opposed to another friend who they may shut off… and furthermore, why a person who is perceived as comfortable in one encounter may not be the next. A doctor may provide a clinical diagnosis based on office sessions (which this different environment may itself introduce a new set of stress triggers), but often the doctors do not understand the patient better than a person close to the patient who is educated and understands their condition.

The point is “mental illness awareness” writ large should not only be concerned with getting patients to seek treatment. Equally important is raising awareness among people who may part of the support network for someone who is struggling with mental illness who may become more educated and recognize the signs and symptoms and convince that person to seek help.

You said at the end of your piece, “if it helps one Josh Marks to understand he is not ‘crazy’…”, I’d say it’s equally as important if it helps one Josh Marks’ sibling, girlfriend, parent, friend, etc, to recognize the signs that the individual is struggling and convince them (as often they’re the only ones who can) to get help. It is because Marshall’s act is so public that it is important; it helps diffuse the stigmatization that often accompanies this issue.

Finally, this incident highlights once again the impotence of the NFLPA. Where are they on this? If this happened in MLB, you know the MLBPA would be putting themselves out there defending their player and publicly shaming the league for the insensitivity of the fine until the league relents.

From the comments, El Stripo:

Fantastic article with a well thought out, concise and eloquently written point of view, Jeff.

I know it isn’t part of your main narrative, but I must comment on it; I personally take a lot of offense with the “NFL pink campaign” bullshit. As a female sportsfan breast cancer “survivor” (I cringe at the term survivor in *my* case…there wasn’t much to “survive”) I am offended by the massive annual pink barf tornado when the feelings of people who are catostrophically effected by a terrible disease are exploited for profit.

My feelings, in short: We don’t *need* your awareness, we *need* your money.

My feelings, in long: People are not “unaware” of the disease. It’s obvious that the NFL knows exactly what they are doing with this campaign; they are playing the audience’s basic human psyche like a fiddle. This whole campaign allows the viewer to “participate” while doing the least amount of work possible. As humans, we want to be rewarded for good behavior, and why not make that “good behavior” the easiest thing to do possible? “Man, I’m glad I’m watching this football game that I probably would’ve been watching anyway, but the mere fact that I’m watching is raising awareness. Yay me, I’m a good person.”

On top of that, this pink awareness barffest is offensive to the point where it’s laughable. Everything in the fucking place is pink. Pink hats, pink socks, pink flags, pink towels, pink helmets, pink butts, pink ball, pink scrimmage line, pink puke. It’s embarrassing when an announcer has trouble announcing a call when he can’t figure out what flag was thrown because they’re all fucking pink. But it doesn’t matter if we look like idiots, guys! We’re RAISING AWARENESS. And you can raise awareness too, for just 34.95; you get a pink Jets hat! Show all your friends that you’re “doing your part”. Especially that missus across the way with her brand new SUV.

I mean, really…who doesn’t like a good old bandwagon? We’re all on the good side, after all! It’s usually difficult to fight a bandwagon (see also: Hitler’s third reich, that whole Steubenville ‘thing’, 9/11 9/11 9/11 nine eleven 9/11), especially when it involves football in this country. But it’s cringe worthy when the bandwagon becomes a mutated alien of itself, completely missing the point while focusing *so hard* on how to showcase exactly how much the NFL “cares”.

I digress. Essentially, Mr. NFL, you are correct; breast cancer blows. Hard. Why not pay those smart scientists or those good doctors more than a fraction of a percent of your yearly earnings to find a cure for the disease that effects 1 in every 8 women we know. We’ll all still watch.

Besides, I don’t know why the NFL has to remind women to get breast exams at all; I can’t turn on a football game without wondering how many players on the field have, at some point in their anointed athlete youth, creepily groped a woman’s breasts. Oh yeah, I think as Ben Roethlisberger drops back to pass,mammograms.

From my mother, who had never mentioned this prior to Monday:

Very understanding.   I’ve had depression and you hit the nail on the head.

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