Aaron Rodgers Has Dak Prescott’s Back: “I Applaud Him” In Speaking Out About Mental Health
They may want to beat each other on the field, but off the field, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a lot to say about Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott when it came to Prescott opening up about the struggles he’s had with mental health.
“All throughout this quarantine and this offseason, I started experiencing emotions I’ve never felt before,” Prescott admitted in an interview with Graham Bensinger. “Anxiety for the main one and then honestly a couple of days before my brother passed, I would say I started experiencing depression.”
It was a heartbreaking off-season for Dak Prescott, not only because of the pandemic but also because he lost one of his older brothers to suicide. As a result, the Dallas quarterback is now publicly reflecting on the legacy of his brother and encouraging others to share what they’re going through and the importance of being open and vulnerable.
“As much as you want to ask why…I know my brother and as we said he had a lot of burdens on him, he had a lot of tough things…it showed me of how vulnerable we have to be as humans, how open we have to be because our adversity, our struggles, what we go through is always going to be too much for ourselves and maybe too much for even one or two people but never, never too much for a community or never too much for the people and the family that you love. So, we have to share those things.”
Several days after Prescott’s interview was made public, Rodgers applauded the 27-year-old for his vulnerability. On September 23, Packers beat writer Matt Schneidman asked the Packers quarterback about mental health and what he thinks “the value of people like him and Prescott talking about their headspace, happiness, and well-being has in destigmatizing talking about [mental health.]”
“I saw what Dak Prescott said, I applaud him, I think it’s phenomenal in speaking out because that’s true courage, that’s true strength, that’s not a weakness at all,” Rodgers said during the remote press conference.
As Rodgers continued, he said “there’s a weird stigma” around asking for help or admitting you’re struggling and having negative thoughts about yourself that have caused people to see it as a sign of weakness. Rodgers realizes that it’s the complete opposite; getting help and being open about your mental health is actually a sign of strength.
“I think strength is taking care of yourself and taking care of your mind, and understanding how important your thoughts are because they become things, and understanding how important positivity is and your attitude. Waking up each day with the right focus, the right mindset, and taking the time to be quiet during the day, whether it’s 5 minutes, 10 minutes, an hour, and still your mind. Allow your brain to rewire itself and change the outlook of the cells in your body. Get them to get out of protection mode and into growth mode.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in the United States, “nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness.” This is not just a professional athlete issue, this is an everyone issue. Prescott and Rodgers are among those who understand that.
“I applaud Dak Prescott,” Rodgers said. “It’s a beautiful thing when people start talking about it…We have the same struggles, the same issues, the same desires to grow and change and to see things in a better, positive light that so many people out there do…the more that we can connect with people, especially on conversations like this…I think the better our society can be moving forward…a society built on love and positivity.”
Brick-by-brick, that stigma when it comes to people, especially men, opening up about their struggles with mental health is being torn down. And brick-by-brick, restoration, healing, growth, and change can happen internally and mentally when we all support what each other is going through and recognizing the importance of raising awareness of mental health.
It’s important to know you’re not alone in whatever situation you are currently facing and it’s also important to know help is available at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 800-273-8255
Charlie Lapastora is a sports/news multimedia journalist who’s reported, written, produced, anchored, shot video/edited on different NBC, ABC, and FOX shows in multiple TV markets, along with digital & new media companies. Charlie has traveled the country telling national sports, news, feature, and original stories on a cable news network, airing on top 10 TV markets, satellite radio, and digital platforms. He is passionate about his faith, family—being a husband to whom he calls the G.O.A.T. of women—about reppin’ his home state of Michigan and Detroit teams (yes, including the Lions), good coffee, and loves how sports brings people together. He’s traveled the world leading and coaching sports camps and has also worked at the Detroit Pistons and LA Clippers’ NBA teams.