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You Need to Hear This Former NFL Player’s Speech About Mental Illness


During his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony, former NFL player Charles Haley spoke up in a moving and humorous speech about a part of his career previously left in the shadows — his mental health.

“I walked into the league a 22-year-old man with a 16-year-old inside of me screaming for help, and I would not ask for it,” he says in the video below.

Haley, a former linebacker and defensive end for both the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys, had unaddressed bipolar disorder throughout his 13 seasons of professional football. Despite his success, which included a record five Super Bowl wins, he said his life was spiraling out of control.

“But today, guys, I take my medicine every day, and I try to inspire others to do the same. Because I finally listened,” he said.

Recently, more NFL players have been speaking up about the prevalence of depression among retired football players. In a 2010 study of 34 ex-football players, nearly a quarter were diagnosed with depression. Haley hopes to inspire younger players to address these issues as soon as they arise.

“The only way that you can grow is that you’ve got to ask for help,” Haley said.

Watch Haley’s full speech in the video below. He starts talking about mental health issues at 3:18.