Brandon Shell feared opening up to anyone when he was growing up. That’s because the words that would leave his lips wouldn’t always come out the way he hoped they would sound.
Shell had a stuttering problem.
Kids in his classes would point and laugh at him, while others would urge Shell “to get the word out.” His classmates picked on him by calling him nicknames like Teddy Bear or Big Softy.
Shell bottled his emotions inside, and it caused him to shut down.
After overcoming his speech impediment and countless years of bullying, Shell is now using his platform as a professional NFL player to help others with the same struggles.
“I notice a lot of kids that struggle with the stuttering,” Shell said Wednesday. “I just know that being the guy that I am and using my platform, that I should let them know that it’s OK if you have that problem...
Shell first opened up to AP when he was a member of the New York Jets. It was there, that the 28-year-old got involved in STOMP Out Bullying, a national anti-bullying and anti-cyber bullying organization for youth.
He hopes to make an impact on the Seattle community in the same way. Shell became an ambassador for SAY, The Stuttering Association for the Young, and recently led a Zoom call with Seattle area kids.
“Just actually talking with the kids and just them asking me questions about how I got through it and the things that I do to get by it and things like that,” he said. “Just seeing those kids actually listening and locked in and talking and asking questions and seeing them taking the knowledge and just running with it, it was great for me.”
The 6-5, 324-pound offensive tackle reached a two-year deal worth $11 million this offseason to join the Seahawks. Shell, the great nephew of Pro Football Hall of Fame tackle Art Shell, hopes to “do right, longer” in Seattle.
In his own words, “you’ve got to give Russ whatever he needs, however much time he needs. You just gotta keep going.”
Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Seahawks had15 plays where all blockers sustained their blocks for at least 4 seconds this season (most in NFL).
“It’s been a huge building block I would say, it’s a team effort, it’s all 11 guys,” Shell explained. “When all the 11 guys are clicking, we have good things happen and I think that this is just the beginning because we still have things to work on as well.
“So we just got to keep building on this.”
[Listen to the latest episode of Talkin' Seahawks with host Joe Fann and Adam Lefkoe host of Bleacher Reports Lefkoe Show]