If anyone wants to stupidly question Brandon Brooks’ toughness, remember this:
Brooks tore his Achilles tendon on Jan. 13 and returned to game action less than eight months later, playing at an even higher level than when he was a Pro Bowler in the previous two years.
This has nothing to do with toughness.
This has nothing to do with want-to.
Brooks is as tough as they come. He wants to be great as much as anybody. But anxiety can be debilitating and he deserves only support from the Eagles and their fans as he continues to bravely and publicly fight it.
Brooks, 30, left Sunday’s game after just 12 snaps. He explained on Monday morning that he had a setback with his anxiety.
Head coach Doug Pederson rightly delivered a strong message of support.
“This is a real life issue. This is not a football issue with Brandon,” Pederson said on WIP Monday morning. “This is a real life issue that he has come out and publicly acknowledged and kind of shared his story a few years back. It’s something that he’s dealing with each and every day of his life. You never really know what triggers it.
“We’re here to support him, we love him. It is unfortunate that it happened, but it’s something that he deals with every single day. We’re just going to continue to support him.”
This is one of those columns aimed at what I hope is just a pinheaded minority of fans with no good outlet for their frustrations.
I hope the majority of Eagles’ fans will support Brooks the way they should. And for the most part, that’s what I’ve seen. Most comments from Eagles fans have been supportive, and I’ve seen several fans reach out with their own stories about how anxiety has affected them, their family members or friends. The public nature of Brooks’ battle — and his openness about it — can maybe help remove some of the stigma associated with mental health.
Because this isn’t about his contract or this season or even about football at all. This is about a daily struggle for a guy who has given his all to the team and the city since his arrival in 2016.
Brooks’ battle with anxiety is very real and the double standard for mental illness is BS. If Brooks left the game with a sprained ankle, there probably wouldn’t be anyone questioning his toughness. But this is something he just couldn’t play through. Brooks is a 330-pound behemoth of a man, but anxiety is crippling and doesn’t discriminate.
This latest setback also serves as an example that all Brooks can do is try to control his anxiety. There’s no cure.
Think about what Brooks has accomplished since he last missed a game in 2016: He became a two-time Pro Bowler, won a Super Bowl, tore his Achilles, rehabbed that Achilles and then signed a contract making him the highest paid guard in the league. It can pop up at any time and that’s scary.
Hopefully, Brooks is able to put Sunday behind him and continue his impressive career. But the truth of the matter is that no one knows if or when his anxiety will overcome him again; not me, not you, not Brooks.
And, to be honest, I just hope Brandon is OK. That’s all anyone should care about. That’s what he deserves.
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