Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf expressed his feelings about the NFL's handling of retired athletes with mental health issues. Leaf took to the internet after news broke about the passing of former NFL wide receiver Vincent Jackson.
Although Vincent Jackson and Leaf were never teammates on the San Diego Chargers, the number two pick in the 1998 NFL draft expressed his displeasure with the NFL's efforts to assist former players with mental health issues. Leaf is a former teammate of Junior Seau, an NFL linebacker who took his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest after struggling with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
What did former quarterback Ryan Leaf say about the NFL?
Leaf held back tears as he expressed his feelings about Jackson on social media. He also had a strong message for the NFL on how they handle mental health problems after retiring from the league.
Ryan Leaf's powerful message to the NFL:
“I don’t know what the f–k to do anymore.”
“My NFL brothers continue to die and nobody is doing a God-d–n thing about it."
“I talked to another brother who spent the weekend in a psych ward today. The NFL doesn’t f–king care. They’ll write condolence letters and s–t like that, but if they were actually invested, they’d actually put some money behind the Legends Community and into the mental health, substance abuse side of it.”
Ryan Leaf went on to say this about the NFL, which has raised a lot of eyebrows around the league:
“Once you are bad for the brand — the [league] shield — they could give two s–ts.”
“I don’t know what the hell to do. They don’t get how precious life is. And then I have this f–king survivor’s guilt on top of it. You need to do something. You need to do something. Because someone — everybody — … just be part of the solution, please.”
Ryan Leaf has battled his fair share of demons during and post his NFL career.
If the autopsy does reveal that Jackson's death did in fact stem from mental health issues, the National Football League will perhaps yet again need to reevaluate how they can amp up their efforts to help former players that continue to battle mental health issues.