Titans receiver AJ Brown shares battle with depression
Nashville, Tenn. – Tennessee Titans wide receiver AJ Brown appears to have everything going his way in 2020, spending his best season to date in the NFL en route to earning his first Pro Bowl honor.
Behind his big smile, Brown said Thursday that he was struggling so badly with depression at the time that he contemplated suicide. he is Share a video on social media On November 12th, the one-year anniversary of that dark time, he encouraged people to seek help, Brown told reporters Thursday, which is why he finally spoke.
“It was a dark moment, and that was a year ago where I was contemplating suicide with my life, you know? And it was so special to me because it came to my heart that I wanted to share and help others as much as I could,” Brown said of sharing his struggle.
Growing up in Mississippi, Brown said he always brushes his feelings aside and never thinks about what depression really is. Brown will not share what led to his depression. Those feelings almost ended up overwhelming him.
Brown said he thought long and hard about posting the video he recorded earlier on November 12. He was nervous about whether he should share his personal struggle with the world. Brown described what gave him the courage to do so.
“I just wanted to send a positive message that I’m still here,” Brown said. “I’m still growing. I’m still learning. I’m blessed. I have so many things to be grateful for and someone was there for me. So reach out to your loved ones and ask them how they’re doing and listen, you know, because it’s important.”
The response to Brown’s video has been overwhelmingly positive. Brown said a lot of men reached out to him, telling him what he shared was powerful. He also sat down with several of his Titans teammates who talked about their own struggles, which Brown says they need to do more than once.
“You have to look for each other,” Brown said. “I know we play this beautiful game, but you know, life is beautiful.”
It’s easy to smile and pretend everything is okay, Brown said. He credits former Mississippi teammate and roommate Elijah Moore, a New York Jets rookie this season, for helping him through his toughest moments. He’s also reached out for professional help, which he still uses.
The receiver currently leads the Titans with 41 catches for 567 yards and three touchdowns.
Titans coach Mike Frabel said Monday he appreciates Brown’s courage in speaking out about mental health. The coach regularly focuses on the mental health of the Titans and said he’s happy they’ve been able to provide a safe space for people dealing with the pressure the NFL could place on professional athletes.
“I hope his message helps someone else feel comfortable asking for help, getting things off their chest, and being able to talk through things, and I think that’s a great example,” said Frabel.
Frabel added that the Titans discussed a college football player whose death in November 2015 was considered a suicide and how his mother thought her son looked happy. That hit home with Frabel, a father of two sons, one of whom was playing soccer at Boston College.
“Having children who are going to start moving away from college and moving on and living their own lives, these are real things we all deal with,” said Frabel. “It’s great that people, especially important professional football players or athletes, are willing to address it and willing to make statements about it.”
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