Only one veteran or former player the AP interviewed acknowledged having taken advantage of counseling provided by his team.
Three said they weren’t aware such help exists.
“I could get a phone call and, in 30 seconds, my career’s over. And where do you go from there? You’re stuck. It’s like, ‘What do I do next?’ … So you see a lot of players do fall into depression, gambling and partying and things like that to try to get over what happened,” said Bills linebacker Kirk Morrison, who’s entering his eighth season. “I think that’s another time where players would seek help. But we’re not built that way. … We’re not built to express our feelings.”
Several players echoed Camarillo’s observation that the biggest difficulty might very well be persuading players that there’s nothing wrong with seeking help.
“It’s a matter of a culture change, moreso than just creating a program. It needs to be something that’s not looked down upon. If a player goes for counseling: ‘What’s wrong with that guy? Why can’t he deal with it?’ The NFL and NFLPA can definitely help more, but it also needs to be a culture change,” said Camarillo, who holds out hope of continuing his playing career.
“It’s just the ‘tough guy’ mentality,” Camarillo said. “We’re taught to deal with any type of weakness and fight through it. In the physical world, that works fine with a sprained ankle or something like that. But in the emotional world, it just doesn’t work the same.”
• AP sports writers Tim Booth, Josh Dubow, Chris Jenkins, Joe Kay, Jon Krawczynski, Larry Lage, Mark Long, Brett Martel, Andrew Seligman, Dave Skretta, Arnie Stapleton, Noah Trister, Teresa Walker, Dennis Waszak Jr., John Wawrow, Steven Wine and Tom Withers contributed to this report.