There Must Be Another Way

By Robert Hawn

The 53rd season has officially come to an end with once again the New England Patriots reigning as Super Bowl Champions. The members from the Patriots roster were standing tall after their 13-3 victory over the Rams. However, there was one person who was left out and that is star wide receiver Josh Gordon.

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Rewind back to the first quarter of the Patriots Week 15 matchup with the Steelers, Tom Brady dropped back, faked the run and threw over to top to Gordon for a gain of 19 yards for his last catch in what could be his brief NFL career. Now Gordon finds himself at home celebrating what would have been his first Super Bowl title.

The news was first reported on December 20th that Gordon was going to step away from football to focus on his mental health.

“I take my mental health very seriously at this point to ensure I remain able to perform at the highest level,” Gordon tweeted. “I have recently felt like I could have a better grasp on things mentally. With that said, I will be stepping away from the football field for a bit to focus on my mental health”

This tweet came out just prior to the NFL announcing the news that they were taking an action and suspending the star for violating the league's substance abuse policy yet again.

If you can recall, Gordon was convicted of DUI back in 2015 and due to the league having a zero tolerance attitude towards substance abuse, Gordon found himself suspended for the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons and missed a majority of 2017.

Gordon has been suffering from stress and anxiety for years now possibly contributing to his use of substances. From camp to the preseason to the regular season, there are plenty of opportunities to create stress for Gordon. Learning new ways to cope with stress, without alcohol or marijuana could help Gordon get back on track and back to the field.  

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The goal behind stress management is to learn ways which can be useful to help athletes control their stress and anxiety issues. Regardless of the sport, there are many factors which can cause an athlete to experience stress or anxiety. The commitment of long seasons and daily practices cause constant wear and tear on an athlete’s body. The physical and psychological demands, paired with constant expectations of perfection, could be enough to push certain players past their limits.

In order for athletes to get ahead of this and become healthy they need to find ways to deal with stress without harming themselves or the people around them. Some of these ways to cope are and are not limited to; engaging in pleasurable activities, taking care of their body, maintaining a positive perspective on their lives, practicing yoga or other relaxation techniques, reaching out and talking to others, and finally seeking help from a professional.

There are many times that the athletic trainer or coach is the first person the athlete turns to when they are stressed out, because they understand that  not many athletes know how to properly handle their stress. Unfortunately for Gordon, his inability to seek help has found him back abusing drugs and under the microscope once again.

 Learning to cope with stress and anxiety are vital to an athlete who has to perform in high pressure situations. The ability to control these feelings without abusing substances is a big step to them having success on and off the field.

If you or a loved one is currently suffering from mental health issues and resorting to substance abuse, please feel free to contact us here at The Southwest Council.