Former NFL running back, Willis McGahee, has opened up about the challenges he faced after retiring from football, including contemplating suicide on multiple occasions. In an interview with The Athletic, the 42-year-old athlete discussed the difficulties of finding purpose outside of the gridiron.
Former NFL star Willis McGahee has spoken out about the challenges he encountered after retiring from professional football, including struggling with his mental health and grappling with the physical pain caused by injuries. His story sheds light on the need for better support systems and assistance for retired athletes.
Struggling to Adjust
McGahee, who played in the NFL from 2003 to 2013 and had a successful career as a running back, found it hard to adjust to life after football. He expressed that when the sport you’ve dedicated your life to is no longer a part of it, it can be challenging to find something to fall back on.
The toll of countless injuries throughout his career added to his struggle. Despite the setbacks, McGahee managed to achieve impressive stats, including over 8,400 rushing yards, 65 touchdowns, and 1,300 receiving yards with five touchdowns.
Mental Health Struggles
Although McGahee felt he still had more to give, the league didn’t share the same sentiment, resulting in him being forced to retire. This decision took a significant toll on his mental health and left him feeling lost.
To cope with his mental health struggles, McGahee turned to therapy and focused on his 10 children. However, the physical pain from his football injuries persists, and he believes that the NFL is failing to provide proper support to players like him through disability benefits.
While McGahee receives line-of-duty benefits for substantial disability related to NFL activities, he says he is being denied assistance for neurocognitive impairment. Frustrated by this situation, he has decided to take legal action by filing a lawsuit against the NFL.
McGahee emphasized that the current system doesn’t adequately support injured players who are genuinely in need. He feels abandoned and believes that something must be done to address these issues and take care of former athletes.
Despite the difficulties he faced and continues to face, McGahee remains resolute. He stated that he has no regrets about his football career but acknowledges that he must navigate the consequences moving forward.