Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Even the Strongest of the Strong Can Need Help

Professional football fans recently learned why the Philadelphia Eagles two-time Pro Bowl player Shawn Andrews wasn’t showing up for practice.  He was sick.  Not just any disease.  Andrews told his team and the larger public that he is battling depression.

Not an easy thing for anyone to admit, and certainly not easy for someone who builds a career based on strength. 

“I’m willing to admit that I’ve been going through a very bad time with depression,” Andrews told the Philadelphia Daily News.  “I’m on medication, trying to get better.”

Last year Andrews got scared of going in for treatment, fearing a fan might recognize and spot him. 

There was a lot of speculation—most of it wrong—about why Andrews was missing practice, a decision costing him $15,000 a day. 

“The consequences are what they are. I'm willing to accept them,” Andrews said. “Football is important, it's a means to an end, but my mental health, I feel like, is a lot more important . . . It is a ton of money, but, at this time, I don't feel like I can put a price tag on my mental state.”

Andrews was most worried about what his teammates would think.  Turns out he wasn’t alone. 

Another Eagle, Brian Dawkins had this to say.  “As a guy who went through that early in my career, taking the medication, I certainly understand.” Dawkins said he was treated for depression as a rookie in 1996. Dawkins said he eventually eased off the medication and thinks he resolved his problem through “prayer and having people around me that I knew cared about me.”

Andrews sought treatment before something really bad happened.  He is all the much stronger for doing so.  A speedy recovery to him.