The Everyday Man's Sports Blog

Follow Mike Patton aka The General as he puts his thoughts in on sports.

Pressures of The NFL

My deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of Kenny McKinley. For those who haven’t heard, the Broncos wide receiver was found at his home in Colorado around 3:30 PM. The police are saying that he was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

McKinley was a 4-year starter at South Carolina during his collegiate days, where he earned All-SEC honors. He played in 8 games last year before being placed on the Injured Reserve List with a knee injury. McKinley was also placed on the IR for this year as well because of his knee not fully recovering yet. He was 23 years old.

Stories like these show you the pressures of pro sports. To the everyday fan, its just a game, but to most who play in the NFL, the game is life. We don’t know the specifics as to why McKinley apparently committed suicide, but in my estimation, the pressures of playing eventually ate him up. The thing that I want more people to get out of this article is that no matter how famous or blessed athletically someone is, they are still human. Human beings go through ups and downs and athletes are no different.

The thing that people don’t realize is that in the NFL, you are more isolated than u would be at a college or high school level, so you have no one to talk to or relate to readily available. And the pride issue and the disappointment of what he thought he should be doing at this point in his career were eating at him. If he would have set his pride down and not took everything on his shoulders, I think everything would have gotten worked out. He did something that a lot of athletes do, not talking about their issues and letting pride get in the way.

So, in closing, people who constantly ride athletes, maybe we need to step back and realize that these people are human beings just like us and even though we may be upset with how they play, we still have to build them up as well. Support is always needed. This happening was a wakeup call.

R.I.P. Kenny McKinley

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7 thoughts on “Pressures of The NFL

  1. Good Blog Mike!I think that a lot of men define who they are by what they do. And so by being injured yet again and not being able to be a part of the team or provide for his family the way that he would if he were playing, took its toll on him. So he fell into a depression and people felt that just because he had money, clothes and cars, he should have been happy and so his depression went unseen because he flashed a smile so no one would think anything was wrong but, like you said mike he was only human. I’m sure no one stopped to ask if he was ok. I don’t see it as necessarily the pressure of being a pro player, I see it as the pressure to provide for your family. Did he have a backup plan? Did he have another job to fall back on? Did he even think that he may need to find something else to do this soon? It wasn’t that football was all he knew, football is all he wanted to know it was his dream it was his passion. Can you imagine being told that you are not well enough to continue living your dream? I can guarantee you that are several players that felt the same way he did, the only difference was he brave enough to follow through.

    • I don’t know if I can say if he was brave enough to follow through with a suicide attempt Regina. I think he was in a tailspin and saw it as a way out or an escape. Being brave would be sitting your pride down and getting help. That’s stepping outside of your own comfort zone.

  2. Tiffany Patton on said:

    Having done suicide prevention training in the past I think both of you hit on some key points. Many times it’s common to hear friends and family say “wow I had no idea anything was wrong”, but after the fact if you dig deeper there were signs. Unfortunately many of us don’t know what signs to look for, which is why writing articles like this are key because talking about it is the first step to preventing it. Major life changes, like losing a job, can trigger depression. And like you both said, this wasn’t just a job, it was his dream. In the African American community we are very quick to have a “we don’t get depressed” or “just get over it” type mentality and because of that we overlook people who need serious help. Feeling alone and isolated just makes the depression worse. So just like if you had a friend with a broken finger you would encourage them to get help from a professional, we need to be the same with our friends and family who have broken spirit.

  3. Valency Horton on said:

    Well said

  4. Kareem Howard on said:

    Maybe it could’ve been a possibility that maybe he just didn’t want to play the game anymore and felt like he had an obligation to his family and friends to ride out the dream that THEY have had for him. A lot of times, friends and family tend to use that person as a future investment, in hopes that they could possibly make them rich, but what if at some point in his life that decided that football wasn’t in his best interest anymore?

    Also, these kids need to realize that there is life after professional sports, and they need exceed in their respective colleges to provide themselves an education that provides them with a backup plan should this pros stuff don’t work out.

    • Well said Kareem. The pressure could have came from his family as well. True statement, but it did ultimately eat him up.
      The thing that I try to stress to kids is to use this vehicle called athletics to propel yourself to a free education and ultimately set yourself up for success. Sports only last so long before the ride is over. You have to have a plan for when the end of your athletic career is near. That’s why it is important to take advantage of the education afforded you if you are lucky enough to get an opportunity to play collegiately.

      • For all that followed this story and commented and read this blog, here is an update on Kenny McKinley via Gridironfan.com:

        Broncos receiver Kenny McKinley was suffering from depression after undergoing knee surgery four weeks ago, according to a report released Tuesday night by the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s office. Police said the second floor was “very smoky” and the attending officer “could smell a strong odor of marijuana.” A bag of leafy substance was found in a shoe box that was in the bedroom. The sheriff’s office report, quoting an investigator at the scene, said McKinley had made statements shortly after the surgery “that he should just kill himself.” The report added McKinley didn’t know what he would do if he couldn’t play football because football was all he knew.

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