Brandon Marshall, who's had his own mental health troubles, pivots off of Junior Seau's death to offer some candid words on the price of male toughness:
The cycle starts when we are young boys and girls. Let me illustrate it for you: Li'l Johnny is outside playing and falls. His dad tells him to get up and be strong, to stop crying because men don't cry. So even from the age of 2, our belief system begins to form this picture. We are teaching our boys not to show weakness or share any feelings or emotions, other than to be strong and tough. Is that ''validating''?What do we do when Li'l Susie falls? We say: ''It's OK. I'm here. Let me pick you up.'' That's very validating, and it's teaching our girls that expressing emotions is OK. We wonder why it's so hard to bridge the communication gap between men and women.This presented itself clearly when I was going through group therapy and was the only man in my groups. Better yet, I was there for three months, and there was only one other guy in the program. In therapy, I learned how to express my emotions and talk about my problems, then apply it to my real life. I had to work through my entire belief system, train myself how to think, not what to think, and let go of the things that had me in bondage. I had to bridge the gap. It wasn't going to do it on its own. It's a cycle.Can you imagine how this presents itself even more so in football players? Junior Seau, Kenny McKinley, Dave Duerson, Brandon Marshall, etc. I am the only one in that group who is living because I got help before it was too late. In sports, those who show they are hurt or have mental weakness or pain are told: ''You're not tough. You're not a man. That's not how the players before you did it.''
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.