Taylor Lewan Joins Chorus of NFL Players Talking Mental Health

If that theme sounds like a familiar one, it should.

Only weeks ago, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill revealed that he sought – and benefited from – therapy in the aftermath of a sub-par season that ended with three interceptions in the playoff loss.

“It’s a deep scar,” Tannehill said. “Every time I closed my eyes I kind of re-watched the game. I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep for weeks. I was in a dark place, and it took me a while, a lot of work to get out of it.

“I’ve worked through it, but therapy, talking to people, time helped. It took a lot of work to get through it. ”

The decision of two franchise cornerstones to share their mental-health struggles – and their means of coping with them – just happened to occur in May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month.

But we know these types of issues – whether in the sports world or otherwise – occur on a regular basis.

Think back to last November, for instance, when former Titans wide receiver AJ Brown detailed a depression so deep in 2020 that he considered taking his own life. He also climbed out of his dark hole by reaching out for professional help, and by talking to one of his closest friends – New York Jets receiver Elijah Moore.

“It was a dark moment,” said Brown, who posted a social media video about his experience. “It just came with my heart that I wanted to share with others and help others so much as I can.”

The fact that more and more NFL players are opening up about mental health issues is beneficial in a number of ways:

• It continues to reduce any remaining stigma surrounding the importance of mental health concerns, delivering the message to professional athletes that it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help.

• It shows that NFL teams recognize the importance of supporting their players’ mental health, as illustrated by Titans coach Mike Vrabel last season in regards to Brown.

“I do appreciate (Brown’s) courage and willingness to share that message,” Vrabel said at the time. “The mental health of our staff –everybody in this building – is something I focus on very regularly. That’s a huge part of our business and what we do. “

• The elevated platform of NFL players such as Brown, Tannehill and Lewan means their message is delivered to a multitude of people who are not professional athletes, encouraging them to follow similar paths.

In the moments following the Titans’ OTA session on Tuesday, an energized Lewan looked happier than ever, trading light-hearted barbs with reporters before offering a self-evaluation much improved from last year.

“Being out here now is already a world of difference to me,” Lewan said. “I can put a helmet on. I’m not gasping for air after four or five plays – (going) through a whole period and I’m laughing, talking trash with the boys. It’s a good time.

“Football is now fun for me again. If there’s any difference you want to know between last year and this year, I’m enjoying the hell out of myself now. “

No Bad Days? That’s a stretch.

But Lewan is the latest Titans player to show he can effectively deal with them.


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