Ex-NFL Star Willis McGahee Says He Had Suicidal Thoughts After Retirement


Former NFL running back Willis McGahee recently opened up about his struggles with mental health and finding purpose after his football career came to an end. In an interview with The Athletic, McGahee revealed that he had contemplated suicide “a couple times” as he grappled with life off the gridiron.

McGahee, who played in the NFL from 2003-2013, spoke candidly about the difficulties he faced after retiring from the sport. “When it’s gone, you really have nothing to fall back on,” he said. The transition from being a professional athlete to finding a new identity and purpose can be challenging for many players.

Despite a successful career as a running back, McGahee’s time in the NFL was plagued by numerous injuries. However, he still managed to amass over 8,400 rushing yards and 65 touchdowns, along with 1,300 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Even though he believed he could still play after the 2013 season, the league didn’t share the same sentiment, and he was forced to move on.

McGahee admitted that adjusting to life after football was mentally tough. He sought help through therapy and focused on his 10 children to improve his mental health. However, he continues to deal with physical pain, and he feels that the NFL has abandoned players like him who need assistance through its disability benefits.

While McGahee receives line-of-duty benefits for substantial disability due to NFL activities, he claims that he is continuously denied assistance for neurocognitive impairment. This has led him to file a lawsuit against the league. He expressed frustration, stating, “They’re not taking care of us. It’s a sham. I’m tired of it. Somebody has to step up and do something about it.”

Despite the challenges he faced, McGahee doesn’t regret his football career. He acknowledged that he would do it all again but acknowledged that dealing with the consequences is something he must face moving forward.

It’s important to recognize that athletes, like anyone else, can struggle with mental health issues and the transition to life after their careers end. The story of Willis McGahee serves as a reminder that support and resources should be available to help athletes navigate these challenges and find purpose beyond the sport.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or visit 988lifeline.org for support.

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