Thu Jun 20 12:09pm ET
By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018 file photo, Former NFL player Brian Dawkins delivers his speech during an induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Brian Dawkins is tackling mental health issues the same aggressive way he took on anyone who dared cross the middle during his Hall of Fame career as a safety for the Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos. Since revealing he suffered from depression and had suicidal thoughts early in his playing career, Dawkins has been on a mission to spread awareness. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Brian Dawkins is tackling mental health issues the same aggressive way he took on anyone who dared cross the middle during his Hall of Fame career as a safety for the Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos.
Since revealing he suffered from depression and had suicidal thoughts early in his playing career, Dawkins has been on a mission to spread awareness. He recently spoke at the Stay in the Game Forum to identify ways sports can be leveraged to have a positive impact on mental wellness. The event was organized by groups including Beyond Sport and the major professional sports leagues, including MLB, NFL, NBA and the NHL.
''We're trying to bring awareness to something that affects 44 million people,'' Dawkins told The Associated Press. ''One in five adults have a mental health condition or are going through some things. I like to talk about my cerebral wellness instead of mental health. I believe we need to begin to change the narrative when we begin to speak about our cerebral wellness. I think there's so much negativity surrounding mental health that it's gonna be hard to take that stigma completely off, so I believe that individuals in every walk of life, you need to take control of it, take ownership of it, you change the way that you feel comfortable for yourself to talk about yourself.''
The topic hits home for Dawkins, who shortly before his Hall of Fame induction ceremony last year publicly shared the personal issues he faced. A ferocious player nicknamed ''Weapon X'' and revered in Philadelphia for his physical style of play and his emotional connection with fans, Dawkins talked openly about the pressure he felt as a rookie second-round pick playing for a playoff contender in 1996. That, combined with being a newlywed and a new parent, was too much for him at times. It led Dawkins to drink alcohol excessively and spiraled into a depression that made him feel like ending his life was the only way out.
''I know what it feels like, my version of depression,'' Dawkins said. ''The things I went through, the dark place that I went through, the times that I didn't want to come out of my house. I did not want to leave the home. I put on a mask every day to go to work and I was pretending to be something that I was not, not in a good way, not in a positive reinforcement way of positive thinking. I was pretending to be something and covering a whole lot of pain in my life.
''So to be able to now get on out on a national scale... we're having these conversations on how sports can be a positive conduit to help others begin to talk about their feelings, talk about the things that are going on in their lives so they can be better versions of themselves so they won't find themselves in those dark pits.''
In May, the NFL mandated that all 32 teams must retain by the start of training camp a behavioral health team clinician focused on supporting players' emotional and mental health and well-being. Dawkins didn't have that option 23 years ago. His wife, Connie, and Eagles defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas persuaded Dawkins to seek help. He began to see a psychiatrist and was prescribed medication for depression. But it was a renewed commitment to his faith that helped him control his issues.
''That is my No. 1 pillar,'' Dawkins said. ''That's just the pinnacle of me, my faith, my belief in the Lord. So everything else trickles down from that concrete rock. Everything else may move. My emotions may go up and down. People around me disappoint me. But that's something that will never disappoint me.''
Dawkins says he begins each day with prayer, scripture reading and meditation. It gives him the mindset that he will ''dominate'' that day.
''I recognize that when I lead with my spirit, when I allow my spiritual man to be the leader of me, my actions will then follow,'' he said. ''I'll be a more loving individual. I'll be a kinder individual. I'll be a more patient individual. I'll see opportunities that others see as bad things, I will see them as things that can actually increase me and bless me down the road. Count it all joy when you go through tests of all kinds. So when I began to view things from that perspective, even when I fall, that's an opportunity for me to get stronger every time so there's no area in my life that I can't get stronger. When I'm winning, I'm getting stronger. And even when I'm losing, I'm getting stronger because I can find something in there that can strengthen me for the next time. That's why my faith is concrete. It's the absolute strongest part of this walk.''
As a cerebral wellness advocate, Dawkins is looking forward to effecting change through the Brian Dawkins Impact Foundation, which is in the planning phases of its first community initiative in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.
''It's designed to help disadvantaged young people, families and communities while promoting spiritual mental and physical wellness,'' Dawkins said.
August 5th: ADP Value
The Dallas Cowboys signed free-agent defensive end Everson Griffen to a contract on Wednesday evening. Griffen had spent over a decade with the Minnesota Vikings and had multiple suitors during free agency. The veteran lineman has recorded 74.5 sacks across his past 77 games and adds an extra pass-rushing element to the Cowboys' defense. The unit gave up the 11th-fewest points per game last season, but also lost Robert Quinn and Byron Jones over the summer. The Cowboys project to be a middle-of-the-pack DST unit in 2020.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross III has left camp to be with his son after both his son and his son's mother tested positive for COVID-19. Ross missed Tuesday's practice and has no timetable for a return. The speedy wideout is clearly prioritizing his family over football, rightfully so, at this point of the preseason. Ross will be placed on the Reserve/COVID list while he is away from the team.
The San Francisco 49ers are bringing free-agent wide receiver Tavon Austin in for a workout. The team is hoping to sign the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver if the workout goes well. San Francisco is looking to bolster their pass-catching corps after speedy wideout Travis Benjamin opted out of the 2020 season last week. Austin caught 13 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown in 14 games with the Cowboys last season.
Washington running back Antonio Gibson has been doing all he can to learn an NFL playbook amid the coronavirus pandemic, which includes sitting in on wide receiver meetings in the early part of camp. Gibson played receiver in college, but also had 33 carries and is expected to primarily be a running back in the NFL, especially with the team releasing Derrius Guice following his arrest. Last season at Memphis, Gibson scored eight receiving touchdowns and added four on the ground so the "Swiss Army Knife" player will be a matchup nightmare for defenses. It will take Gibson time to learn everything about the RB position, but he is electric with the ball in his hands so expect Washington to get creative finding ways to get him involved. Gibson is a high-upside sleeper to target late in fantasy drafts.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones will look to take a step forward in his second NFL season, and will be doing so with a new offensive coordinator in former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. In his first public comments since being hired in January, Garrett raved about the sophomore-signal caller's work ethic and the work Jones put in to learn the offense without the two being able to meet face-to-face due to the coronavirus pandemic. Jones showed huge upside last season with five-300 yard passing games and three games with four-plus touchdowns. His main issue was turnovers as he threw 12 picks and fumbled a league-leading 18 times. Garrett had great success with Dak Prescott, so expect him to help Jones improve in year two making him a good QB to target if waiting on the position in drafts.
Free-agent RB Kenjon Barner (Falcons) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Baltimore Ravens Wednesday, Aug. 12.
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb told reporters during a Zoom session on Tuesday that he is "ready to share work with (Kareem) Hunt and play alongside him in the same backfield." Chubb and Hunt played eight games together in 2019 after Hunt served an eight-game suspension to begin the season. Chubb told reporters, "Last year, it was just half a season (with Hunt), and this year, he's here and ready. I look forward to it." While Hunt's presence in the backfield will affect Chubb in the passing game, the Browns figure to skew run-heavy under first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski. That, along with a revamped offensive line, should lead to more than enough fantasy production for both Chubb and Hunt in 2020. Draft Chubb as a low-end RB1 in all formats this season.
Updating a previous report, Tennessee Titans LB Vic Beasley (undisclosed) failed his physical and was placed on the Non-Football Injury list.
Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) passed his physical Wednesday, Aug. 12, and was activated from the active/Non-Football Injury list.
Fantasy Spin: Hilton has been plagued by soft-tissue injuries, and this hamstring injury adds more trepidation. He's a WR3 that you need a backup plan for, but he has upside there as well.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has been cleared to play football after a COVID-19 test resulted in a false positive. Stafford commented, "I want to play football. I want to be out there", in addressing a situation he referred to as "scary". The veteran quarterback was on his way to one of the best seasons of his professional career last year, passing for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns in only eight games. But a fractured back ended his season Stafford and his fantasy value will be weighed down by the specter of that injury heading into fantasy drafts.
Green Bay Packers WR Equanimeous St. Brown (ankle) will be ready for the first practice Saturday, Aug. 15, according to general manager Brian Gutekunst.
New York Giants TE Evan Engram (foot) said he is ready for training camp thanks to 'a very strong and aggressive rehab' this offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Engram has delivered TE1 production when on the field, but he has played just 19 games over the past two seasons because of various injuries. He could be a Top 5 player at his position, but you need to have a quality backup plan in place.
Philadelphia Eagles RB Boston Scott is 'positioned to be the No. 2 running back' in 2020, according to Zach Berman of The Athletic, and Berman said he expects Scott to have a Darren Sproles-like role in the backfield.
Fantasy Spin: Scott flashed his upside late last season, piling up 151 rushing yards, 199 receiving yards and scoring four times over the final four games. Miles Sanders is the lead back in Philadelphia, but his owners may want to grab Scott as a handcuff.
For the second day in a row, the Green Bay Packers have added a wide receiver. This time, it's former Seahawks wideout Malik Turner, who had 15 catches for 245 yards last season. Turner's much more likely to play a role on this team than the other addition, Travis Fulgham, but he still faces an uphill battle to be a fantasy-relevant part of this roster in 2020. Still, Green Bay is fairly shallow at receiver, so Turner could end up as the team's No. 3 wide receiver by the time the regular season rolls around.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo is no longer wearing a knee brace in practice this year.
Fantasy Spin: Garoppolo had previously said his knee is back to 100 percent following his 2018 injury, and shedding the brace is further confirmation. A more mobile Garoppolo could lead to a few more big plays, but he should probably still be viewed as more of a high-end QB2 than a every-week fantasy starter.
Updating a previous story, free-agent DT Mike Daniels (Lions) agreed to terms on a one-year deal worth up to $2.7 million with the Cincinnati Bengals Tuesday, Aug. 11, according to a source.
Updating a previous story, free-agent CB Ross Cockrell (Panthers) will remain a free agent after failing to come to terms on a contract with the New York Giants.
Free-agent DT Darius Kilgo (Lions) signed with the New England Patriots Tuesday, Aug. 11. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.
Free-agent DT P.J. Hall (Raiders) visited the Houston Texans Tuesday, Aug. 11.
Miami Dolphins CB Xavien Howard was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, Aug. 11.