Steve Smith Sr has revealed his battle with depression during his NFL career, saying he "routinely felt trapped, inferior and alone".
The retired wide receiver has written a piece for the league's official website, titled "My personal battle with depression", in which he detailed his mental health struggles that date back to the early years of his career.
Smith said he felt "mentally, physically and emotionally broken" despite success on and off the field during 13 seasons with the Carolina Panthers and three with the Baltimore Ravens.
Noting the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain that shocked the world in early June, Smith commended retired safety Brian Dawkins for touching on the subject during his enshrinement speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony last weekend.
"Now more than ever, it's important to be honest about mental health," Smith wrote.
"The first time I stepped into a counselling session was in 2002, when I saw a sports psychologist. I was able to retain what helped me reach my peak performance and able to get in the zone, shutting out the noise and negative thoughts on the field.
"I did that with flying colors, but I wasn't able to grasp that concept in my life outside of the game. I couldn't quiet the noise and negative thoughts in my mind.
"It wasn't until I stepped away from the game at the end of the 2016 NFL season that I really began to take ownership and understand my personal journey with depression.
"One common question I contemplated through the highs and lows was simple, but felt so complex: 'What's wrong with me?'"
Revealing how he now "finally feels free", Smith continued: "Generally, throughout much of my life, unhappiness, constant self-criticism and an inability to let old blunders go weighed so heavily on my mind.
"I can recall hundreds of these moments, on and off the gridiron, when I felt inept. It really took a toll on my mental state.
"In 2013, my final year in Carolina, I hit a point where I was so overwhelmed that I wasn't sure what to do or how to handle my emotions. Small things in my daily life impacted me in a big way, and I was a cynic of everything and everyone.
"It was at that point I decided - with hesitancy - to try counselling for non-football related matters for the first time in my life."
"I continued counselling sessions when I got to Baltimore the following year. I saw small changes in myself, but even more, I started seeing all my flaws. That's a hard thing to accept for anyone.
"After tearing my Achilles midway through what was to be my final season, I remember sitting in the hospital bed recalling dropped passes from 10 years prior. Mind you, at the time of my injury, I needed just 49 catches to hit 1,000 for my career.
"But now, a year and a half has passed since my last NFL game, and for the first time in my life, I finally feel free."
17 de agosto 2018
|Atletico Madrid fined for breaching third-party regulations|
|Cipriani charged by RFU after common assault conviction|
|No contact, no negotiation - Leonardo denies AC Milan deal for Milinkovic-Savic|
|Kovacic set for Chelsea debut against Arsenal|
|Fury´s father restrained as Wilder crashes Pianeta weigh-in|
|Kohli and Bumrah fit for win-or-bust Test|
|Stokes ready and desperate to help England, says Root|
|Salah, Mane and Firmino not in competition says Klopp|
|Darmian staying at Manchester United, says Mourinho|
|Guardiola cites fatigue as factor for stricken De Bruyne|
|Kovac approves Rudy departure from bloated Bayern midfield|
|Klopp insists no player leaves without his approval amid Klavan rumours|
|Real Madrid complain to FIFA over Inter´s alleged Modric approach|
|Mourinho ´has never been so happy´ with unsettled Pogba|
|Manly implode amid Barrett uncertainty, Storm´s Smith injured|
|Sarri certain Hazard is staying at Chelsea|
|Liverpool, Champions League, Manchester derby - The matches De Bruyne will miss due to injury|
|Campbell joins Frosinone from Arsenal on permanent deal|
|Schalke sign Lille´s Mendyl to end left-back hunt|
|Stokes back in England team as Curran drops out|
|Ronaldo doesn´t guarantee Juventus the title, warns Allegri|
|Tuchel keen to guide PSG star Mbappe after World Cup heroics|
|Yuri: I can see Neymar joining Real Madrid|
|Milan pounce for Castillejo as Bacca joins Villarreal permanently|
|De Bruyne to miss three months for Manchester City|
|Manchester City talent Arzani completes Celtic loan|
|I know how precious my career is, says regretful Cipriani|
|Paulo Bento named new South Korea coach|
|Milan complete Laxalt deal|
|Poyet suspended by Bordeaux after outburst against board|
|Tuchel will let Neymar and Cavani settle penalties themselves|
|Hooper: We´re ready, bring on the All Blacks!|
|Outstanding Australia deserve our respect - Read|
|Dragons´ Widdop set for Finals return|
|Jamshed found guilty of corruption and banned for 10 years|
|Bennett will not be sacked, insist Broncos|
|Marchisio leaves Juventus|
|The Breakdown: A statistical look at round one of the Rugby Championship|
|Durham sign Bancroft for 2019|
|Wolfsburg to fine Hinds after training no-show|
|Rugby Championship 2018: Team-by-team guide|
|LaLiga 2018-19: Atletico Madrid ready for another title push|
|The big Friday Premier League quiz|
|Mets set franchise record in 20-run victory|
|Poyet threatens to quit after Bordeaux sell Laborde|
|Keys hits 55 winners en route to QFs, Halep claims rain-interrupted match|
|Djokovic-Dimitrov poised as rain wreaks havoc, Del Potro through|
|Tolisso: Pavard to Bayern? I don´t know|
|Ramos: Real Madrid will win again|
|Eagles QB Nick Foles suffers shoulder strain|
|Man City want to dominate English football, warns Walker|
|Golf behind Timberwolves´ draft mishap in 2009? Curry thinks so|
|Puig suspended, Hundley fined for starting Dodgers-Giants brawl|
|Snedeker leads Wyndham Championship with stunning 59|
|Yankees slugger Judge ´frustrated´ with wrist injury|
|Marlins pitcher Urena handed six-game ban for intentionally hitting Acuna|
|Pochettino expects ´toughest season´ yet at Tottenham|
|´You know you are not employing the Pope´ - Diamond has sympathy for Cipriani|
|Khedira still committed to Germany|
16 de agosto 2018
|Serena Williams reveals what shook her before worst loss of career|
|Burnley 1 Istanbul Basaksehir 0 (after extra time): Cork cracker sends Burnley through|
|Zenit hit eight in extraordinary Europa League fightback|
|Saints get back to winning ways at Wakefield|
|Giants medical team discovered tumour in Brittan Golden´s mouth|
|Maribor 0 Rangers 0: Gerrard´s men book play-off berth with calm clean sheet|
|Sassuolo reel in Marlon from Barcelona|
|Formula One ´very poor´, says Alonso after quitting|
|Brighton to host Southampton in EFL Cup second round|
|Tiger Woods´ caddie tried to pay heckler to leave Firestone|
|Sordet leads Nordea Masters, Olesen overcomes flight woes|