NFL Films Documentary Covers Bipolar Disorder
My battle with bipolar disorder while playing with the Baltimore Ravens in 1997 has recently sparked interest in the media. Dave Douglas, the senior producer at NFL Films, just so happened to stumble upon the article 'Hang Em High'(http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1164005/1/index.htm), which appeared in the December 21 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated . The article takes a look into the 'art of punting' - The history of the position, the pressure to perform and the importance of the NFL punter in the 21st century. The author, John Ed Bradley, called me in August of 2009 and asked me if I would contribute to his piece. I agreed.
After an animated 2.5 hour interview, I was convinced that 'my story' was finally going to be told - The injuring of my lower back in high school.....the painful transition from linebacker/tight end on the football team and defense-man on the ice hockey team to 'just a punter'.......at the age of 16 vowing to become a 'professional specialist in the NFL in the year 1988' ......three-time All-Big Ten, two-time All American at Michigan St.......drafted in the 3rd round by the Houston Oilers(72nd pick) ...... becoming the best in the NFL(1990,1992,1992)... the hours of rehabilitation.....the hundreds of massages and injections.......and finally, the way I personally dealt with the anxiety of playing my whole career with the pain - a broken vertebrae(L4), torn labrum in my hip(plant leg) and torn quadriceps(kicking leg). And it was this anxiety, my personal pressure to be the best on the planet , that manifested into bipolar disorder.
A long story short. In the Sports Illustrated article, my career was summed up as 'having a panic attack before a game' and a mis-quote from 'Days of Thunder'. The oversight was most likely due to editing, word count and/or time constraints. But that being said, it still didn't sit very well with me, my family and friends.
Thank God For Editing
After reading the article, Dave Douglas, the senior producer at NFL Films, called me to ask if I would be interested in telling my story. He told me that 'his gut told him' there was more to my story. Still a little 'gun shy' from the Sports Illustrated debacle, I was apprehensive. We had a 20 minute conversation where I expressed my concerns. The only way I would agree to do the piece was if he could guarantee it would be accurate. Not some 'kooky kicker' or 'punting in the NFL caused a panic attack' bullshit. He then shared with me his own personal experience of dealing with friends and family that suffered from depression. He knew what it felt like to lose a loved one that was depressed. He said he wanted to help me break the stigma that comes with depression and bipolar disorder. He said he wanted to make a difference. He was sincere. He gained my trust. So I agreed.
It's so ironic how the disappointment of one story can lead to the telling of the 'real story'. And for it to be produced by such a classy company such NFL Films. I'm looking forward to seeing the final product.
The moral to this story? Patience and staying positive. Working hard and doing 'good works'.
No matter how hard it gets, believing that good things are on the horizon.....................
Believe IT and IT will Be