Troy Vincent: “We want to dispel the myth that football players are not vulnerable. We are.”

June 20, 2012 – 6:00 am by Steven Cuce

Troy Vincent was a well known defensive back in his playing days for the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins. At this current time he has an active role in the NFL as Director of Player Engagement. The former Wisconsin defensive back has been creating programs that are focused on helping players make an easy transition into life after football.

The programs offered to help retired NFL players don’t just relate to dealing with the physical elements of life after football, but the mental side as well, which Vincent believes is the biggest problem. According to Vincent, mental health services are not being used enough by former players that certainly need them.

NFL’s Director of Player Engagement Troy Vincent joined WGR in Buffalo with The Howard Simon Show to discuss the programs offered to players who are done playing in the NFL, the difficulty many NFL players having in dealing with life after football, mental services that are offered to NFL players and being concerned that NFL players aren’t seeking out enough help.

What are the programs you offer to players after they are done playing in the NFL?

“Each one of our programs that currently exist it’s a combination of both of our actually available for both current and former players. From our broadcast boot camp, which is very popular. Our music boot camp. Our coaches academy. Our entrepreneurship program for those who want to get a fill of the business. We have our music boot camp. Each one of our programs, we are actually very, very close to finishing a partnership with IFA [International Franchise Association] and wanting to get into that discipline. Each one of our programs, which is a multitude of programs and services. All are available to both current and former players.”

What is the most difficult part for the players when they are done playing football and going on into life after football?

“I think it is the new normal. It’s your ability…as athletes in the professional game and even at the collegiate level and some cases at the high school level everything around the athlete, we enable the athlete. The sport itself enables the athlete. Now when the athlete as a professional has to transition back into what we call the ‘new normal’ and it’s a term I actually took from the veterans and what the military is using when the men and women of the armed forces are returning back to that new normal. The athlete just doesn’t adjust well because for the last…depending on how long they played and the longer you play the worse it is. Your days are set by an agenda that someone else gives you. You are not spending much time at home because you are working, so the interaction at home and that was one of the most difficult parts of my transition and I was very active for 15 years during the offseason. Just getting back to the normal routine of life. I remembered two years ago I was 38 years old and it was the first time I ever had to wait in the lobby of a medical center. I mean…38 years old? Prior to that you go in the back door. You don’t have to fill out paperwork because people are doing it for you. I think that’s the most difficult part.”

What about the mental side? How often do you see guys needing help in that area?

“We haven’t….very, very seldom do we get calls. We have our player assistance and counsel services is not just available to players, but his family as well. Each player has the option of four free clinician services of their choice and where they want it to. It doesn’t get used often. Very seldom does a player or family member reach out to just talk about hey I am not feeling well. Again it’s a service that’s very unutilized. We know the pressures of the sport. The pressures of family. We know the influences that are around the athlete, but these services as well. We provide the club level, the league level, and also at the union level. There is some support there for the players and their families. It’s just an unutilized service that exists.”

Are you concerned about the NFL players that need the services for mental help, but won’t seek it out for some reason?

“Yes sir. It is a concern of ours because I was one of those individuals that not necessarily needed help from a clinical standpoint, but in the world of professional sports and more in particular, football, you don’t want anyone to know that you are not feeling well. That’s a sign of…that’s a stigma that is related with talking about mental health and mental wellness. That’s a challenge for us. That is something we want to overcome. We want to dispel the myth that football players are not vulnerable. We are. We are human beings, but those are the things. It’s a population that doesn’t view and receive resources, more in particular mental health services well.”

Listen to Troy Vincent on 550 WGR in Buffalo here

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