Hall of Fame Health helps former players with mental health issues before it’s too late

FRISCO – For the initial fundraiser for “Heroes of the Game,” they went to the Star on Saturday night to name the Pro Football Hall of Famers or Marion Barber III, who did not have a mental health panel. It’s just a passing reference to something that happened on the “street”. Somewhat ironic, but not surprisingly. Even the doctors are not sure when the former Cowboys died running back, even less so how or why. It doesn’t seem worthwhile to jump to conclusions.

Barber’s sad story is one of a kind of attempt to avoid Pro Football Hall of Fame Behavioral Health.

Few athletes have been as honest about their mental health problems as Charles Haley, or have done more to help, but he or she would not go there either.

“Has your doctor confirmed any problems?” Haley asked me.

No, no one has said much about the death of a man approaching his 39th birthday. His tough style of play earned him the nickname “Marion the Barbarian.” A man loved by teammates and coaches. An intelligent, thoughtful and well-read man, he played the piano and once ran a youth football camp in the inner city.

Her former teammates barely knew a man.

Terence Newman, who co-starred with Barber from 2005-10, noticed that a 2019 man was walking to a gas station on the side of the road. He noticed that it was raining. On closer inspection, he saw that it was Barber. Newman had heard that he had “fallen into hard times,” but was not prepared for the trial. for shock.

The old team members exchanged numbers and parted ways, at least once shaken by the experiences.

“I was terrified when I saw it,” Newman told Tyler Dunner in his recent podcast, “Go Long.” “He looked bad. It seemed that he was not there, as if he were another person, that he could not function. And that’s why he was walking and not driving. When I told you I was scared, I thought it might rock over me.

“I was really scared.”

He had reason to be terrified. In 2014, Mansfield police arrested Barber after he entered a church near his home while carrying a 9mm pistol loaded. He told police he did not know where he was. Or what year it was.

He was then given a mental health assessment, at least one of which was with the Cowboys in 2011 and the other after retiring from his career in Chicago in 2011. Whatever the problem – perhaps the initial dementia brought on by the CTE from his football career, a rare but frequent result – clearly something was wrong.

In addition to the bizarre behavior described by the neighbors, there was an arrest in 2019 for two incidents that damaged the vehicle while it was running. He accepted no competition and received a one-year sentence, 60 hours of social service and a fine.

In July, in response to a video release of Barber running with football, Dez Bryant tweeted that his former teammate was “bad.”

Dez added: “We’re just a statistic and a moment for most people.”

Not for their peers, they are not. Since the birth of Pro Football Hall of Fame Health in early 2020, former players have been receiving more support. One last iteration: Hall of Fame Behavioral Health. Associated locally with Baylor Scott & White Health, it provides concierge service to help athletes and their families negotiate all kinds of needs.

Jeremy Hogue, chief executive of Hall of Fame Health, would not put a number on how many cases have been reported in the past two years. “Dozens and dozens,” he would say alone. They are close to the vest for clear reasons.

What he will say is that even with the backing of the NFL and the NFLPA, that is not enough.

“I think what surprised us was the volume of calls we receive from the mental health of things and the dependence on substance abuse,” he said. “Usually not from the players, but from their family members, their agents, their college friends, their teammates who are saying, ‘Hey, we have a guy who won’t be here in a month.’ “

It’s a big market for Texas Hall of Fame Health, Hogue said. Twenty-five percent of former NFL players live in Lone Star State, most of them in Dallas or Houston.

One of the most notable is Tim Brown, winner of the Heisman Trophy and a member of the Woodrow Wilson Hall of Fame and Ambassador of the Hall of Fame Behavioral Health. In a panel moderated by Gerald McCoy Oklahoma and former Cowboys defense attorney, Brown said you can always spot a teammate with mental health issues. Each team had a couple.

Tim Brown talks about mental health on June 11, 2022, June 11, 2022, at a charity fundraiser at Star Frisco. (Jason Janik / Special Collaborator)(Jason Janik / Special Assistant)

As far as we know, Marion Barber didn’t show any signs of being a player, but she certainly did at the end of her violent career.

Wasn’t that what the new Hall initiative needed?

“Unfortunately, he probably didn’t know that,” Brown told me. “We didn’t know his condition, did we? That’s why the NFL needs to get involved. The boys in the locker room need to know what’s going on so they know how to help boys like Marion.

“I mean, maybe that could have changed his life.”

Of course, no one can say for sure. We don’t know what happened to Barber, and we may never know. Her family says the will states that her brain will not be donated to CTE research. He didn’t want an autopsy, either. He carries his sad story with him.

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