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.
July 16th: Training Camp Preview
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook arrived at camp last Tuesday despite previously stating that he would not report unless he received a new deal. However, under the new collective bargaining agreement, the 24-year-old ran the risk of becoming a restricted free agent beyond 2020 by not showing up, something he ultimately did not want to do. Cook had a breakout season in 2019, finishing with 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. He also added 53 catches for 519 yards and was also one of the most prolific runners after contact. He is slated to make $1.3 million if an agreement isn't reached. Nonetheless, with the team vowing to work to get a new deal done, fantasy managers can feel a bit more confident by selecting Cook in the first round of fantasy drafts for the upcoming campaign.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has no plans to opt out of the 2020 NFL season, despite negative comments he made in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. In the interview, Beckham criticized the NFL, stating, I just feel like the season shouldnt happen and Im prepared for it to not happen and I wouldnt mind not having it. Were not ready for the season, so why are we trying to push forward?" It turns out that the interview took place two weeks ago and Beckham has since backed off on those comments after he saw how safe and sanitary everything inside the Cleveland facility has been. Beckham should be treated as an upside WR2 in fantasy drafts this season.
Las Vegas Raiders DT P.J. Hall will be released Monday, Aug. 3, two years after selecting him in the second round of the NFL draft.
Updating a previous report, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson (illness) recently tested positive for coronavirus but is reportedly asymptomatic. Pederson will continue to lead the Eagles virtually 'as much as he can' while assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley will serve as the interim head coach in his absence.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson (illness) recently tested positive for coronavirus but is reportedly asymptomatic, according to sources.
New Orleans Saints DB Chris Q. Johnson, OG Adrian Magee and RB Taquan Mizzell were waived Sunday, Aug. 2.
Detroit Lions DE Romeo Okwara was placed on the Active/Non-Football Injury list Sunday, Aug. 2.
Free-agent WR Dontrelle Inman (Colts) visited the Washington Football Team on Sunday, Aug. 2.
New Orleans Saints WRs Maurice Harris and Tommylee Lewis were released Sunday, Aug. 2.
New England Patriots RB Sony Michel (foot) was placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list Sunday, Aug. 2, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Michel probably will miss some practice time during camp because of his injury but appears to be on track for the start of the regular season. He can be considered a No. 2 or No. 3 fantasy running back if he is healhy.
New England Patriots WR Mohamed Sanu (undisclosed) was placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list Sunday, Aug. 2, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Sanu struggled after his trade to the Patriots and posted only 207 yards in eight games. He probably will be a top three receiver for the Patriots if he can remain healthy and should be rostered in most fantasy leagues in 2020.
New York Giants wide receiver/kick returner Da'Mari Scott has elected to opt out of the 2020 NFL season. Scott has mostly been a special teams contributor when active. He was active for five games last season and three in 2018 for the Bills. Scott has caught two passes in his career, for a total of 22 yards.
Dallas Cowboys full back Jamize Olawale has chose to opt out of the 2020 season. In two seasons with Dallas, Olawale has yet to attempt a rush and has caught just two passes. He has primarily worked on special teams, logging 539 special teams snaps as compared to just 232 offensive snaps (almost all for blocking). He's under contract for $1.3 million in 2021.
New York Giants DT Leonard Williams (hamstring) was placed on the Active/Non-Football Injury list Sunday, Aug. 2.
Free-agent RB Jeremy Hill (Patriots) signed with the Las Vegas Raiders Sunday, Aug. 2. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Free-agent DT Niles Scott (Bengals) and CB Akeem King (Seahawks) signed with the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Aug. 2. Terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR James Washington was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday, Aug. 2.
Fantasy Spin: Washington will be sidelined for an undisclosed amount of time, so fantasy players can keep an eye on the situation. He had a solid 2019 season with 73 receiving yards and should be a top-three receiver for the Steelers again this season. He can be a No. 4 or No. 5 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Atlanta Falcons LB Foyesade Oluokun was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday, Aug. 2.
The Cleveland Browns placed wide receiver Jarvis Landry (hip) on the active/PUP list on Sunday. The team said that Landry has not had a setback and is still on schedule in his recovery. Landry is healing up from February hip surgery. Initially given a 6-8 month timetable to return, Landry will be cutting it close if he wants to be active for Week 1. If Landry is unable to start the season on time, Kareem Hunt could see added snaps as a wide receiver. When healthy, Landry is a solid WR2 in PPR leagues.
Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry (hip) was placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list Sunday, Aug. 2.
Fantasy Spin: Landry will be limited during training camp but is on track for the start of the regular season. He will continue to see plenty of targets in the passing game and can be a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues.