Football players are not immune from the growing mental health issues in modern society. NFL players are seen as bastions of strength and determination, but many of them face battle personal issues behind the scenes.
One of the best ways to combat the issue is to reduce the stigma by talking about it, which is why Trey Burton opened up about his battle with anxiety.
In a blog post for The Increase, the Bears tight end discussed his upbringing and revealed the mental health issue he dealt with during his college career.
“The main reason I became highly anxious was because all I cared about was football; all I wanted to do was perform at a high level,” Burton wrote. “If we had a bad game … man, you didn’t want to come anywhere near me. It really affected my anger.”
It wasn’t until he came to Florida to play college football that he really realized it was a problem. He was asked to change positions multiple times after being recruited as a quarterback, and it wasn’t until his junior year that he found some inner peace.
“By refocusing my thoughts and feelings,” Burton wrote, “I was able to reshape my entire football career.”
He became religious that year and started opening up more to his girlfriend, who is now his wife. The following season, he found a home at wide receiver and had a career-high 38 catches and 445 receiving yards.
Burton still went undrafted in the NFL, but five years later, he’s happy and content with where life has taken him, and he’s ready for all the pressure of a premier role in the new Bears offense.
Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro was a surprise addition to the team’s injury report Saturday afternoon, and is officially listed as questionable for Monday night’s game against Washington with a right leg injury.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.
Coach Matt Nagy sounded optimistic the injury is “minor” in nature, and said despite feeling some pain Pineiro did kick in practice on Saturday. But the mere inclusion of him on the injury report raises concerns about the Bears’ kicking situation only six days after it appeared to have been solved with Pineiro’s game-winning 53-yard kick against the Denver Broncos.
“I think what we’ve got to do as these days go by let’s just see where he’s at,” Nagy said. “I’m going to be on the cautious side with him and we’ll just kind of feel out the pain part and if it’s something that’s going to affect him, then we’ll have a decision to make. If not — hopefully he’ll be okay.”
Nagy said the injury occurred in the weight room at Halas Hall, and stressed the cautious approach he and the Bears’ training staff is taking to Pineiro. And the Bears’ coach consistently presented an optimistic outlook for Pineiro when answering questions from the media on Saturday.
Still, if Pineiro cannot play on Monday, the Bears will be in a bind. Punter Pat O’Donnell has never attempted a field goal in his NFL or college career, though Nagy did say O’Donnell “has some experience.” The most recent memory of O’Donnell working on field goals came during halftime of a loss to the San Francisco 49ers in 2017, when then-kicker Cairo Santos was hurt, though he didn’t attempt a kick in the second half of that contest.
“I don’t want to rush to judgment yet,” Nagy said. “That’s not where we’re at. I really do think that we’ll be okay. We just want to make sure that we’re doing everything the right way with him, with his pain, and we’ve got to communicate with him, see how he feels, and it’s probably going to be one of those deals where in a couple days where he’s at and we’ve got to make a decision.”
So all of a sudden, Pineiro’s status will be critical to monitor in the hours leading up to Monday night’s game (the Bears have to submit inactive players 90 minutes before kickoff). If Pineiro is unable to play, will the Bears actually use O’Donnell for field goals? Or will Nagy lean into his aggressive nature and try to convert fourth downs and two-point conversions?
It feels disappointing for the Bears to even have to entertain these questions at this point. If Nagy’s optimism proves to be founded, the Bears won’t have an issue Monday night. But if they do, it’ll put plenty of pressure on a sputtering offense to make sure a game against a winless team doesn’t come down to another kick.
JJ Stankevitz chats with NBC Sports Washington Redskins Insider JP Finlay to preview Monday night's game, which just might be a must-win for Washington (1:20).
Also, is the Redskins' defense actually as bad as it's looked in the first two games of 2019? (2:30) Will Josh Norman shadow Allen Robinson and try to shut him down? (6:15)
On the offensive side of the ball, JP explains what's made Case Keenum so good this year (9:45) and if rookie wideout Terry McLaurin's explosive start to the season is sustainable (11:55). Plus, JP gets into the impact of left tackle Trent Williams' holdout (13:30) and how it's effected running back Adrian Peterson (15:05).
Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:
Under Center Podcast