August 05, 2008
the NFL, most physical ailments aren't treated with a tremendous amount of
sympathy. A man's injury isn't thought of in terms of the impact it has on his
life; it's thought of in terms of the amount of time it'll keep him on the
sidelines. High-ankle sprain, six weeks. Groin strain, three weeks. Herniated
disc, six weeks.
When one guy goes down, all eyes turn to the next guy in line, and they won't look back at the first guy until he's healthy again.
That's just the way it goes. Teams are in the business of winning, and the league is in the business of selling entertainment. An injured football player can neither win nor entertain. And if we stopped and lit a candle and had a prayer service for every player who was injured, no one would ever get anything done.
But then there are the mental and emotional ailments, which are given even less sympathy, if they're even acknowledged at all. And that's what Philadelphia Eagles lineman Shawn Andrews--who has missed all of Eagles training camp--is finding out right now.
Here's Andrews, via Eagletarian:
"I'm willing to admit that I've been going through a very bad time with depression," the Eagles' two-time Pro Bowl right guard said. "I've finally decided to get professional help. It's not something that blossomed up overnight. I'm on medication, trying to get better."
Andrews didn't want to go into the origins of his depression, which he said began a little more than a year ago and steadily worsened. "I really was kind of at my end," he said. "I've really had a lot on my mind, really (been) contemplating a lot of things."
Anyone who has been through such struggles knows the symptoms he is dealing with -- a frantic, anxious feeling, inability to sleep or concentrate.
And he's been absorbing $15,000 in fines for every day of practice he's missed.
But if he was sitting at home with an ailment that was more easily identifiable and relatable in the ultra-masculine world of football--a broken ankle, for example--that wouldn't be the case.
And I'd suggest to you that a lineman with a broken ankle is in far better shape than the lineman with depression. If your ankle's broken, you can still study film, be with the team, and hang out on the sidelines and help younger guys.
If you're battling any kind of severe depression, though, it's sometimes all you can muster to get out of bed and shower. Most of us have been around people dealing with some kind of depression ... tell me, is that the person you want charged with protecting you from angry defensive linemen?
The Eagles have a chance here to do the right thing, rescind the fines, show some support for Andrews, and acknowledge that depression is just as capable of keeping a guy out of a lineup as is a broken kneecap.
Shawn Andrews hasn't asked anyone for sympathy, but he does deserve a little bit. Even if it's the miniscule amount that's given to players with hamstring pulls and fractured wrists.
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