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Browns rookie emerges from rocky past


Browns rookie emerges from rocky past

The arc of Nate Orchard’s life follows a somewhat similar path to that of former Raven Michael Oher’s “Blind Side” story. ESPN.com laid out the history this week.

Orchard, a linebacker from Utah taken by the Cleveland Browns in the second round of the draft, went through a great deal of upheaval in his young life.

Born in California, Orchard was sent to live in Salt Lake City with his brother at 10 or 11 when his mother decided she couldn’t provide for him. (Orchard doesn’t know his father.) After three years, financial woes forced his brother to move in with his in-laws, leaving Orchard with no home. With few other choices, Orchard approached his high school basketball coach. Dave and Katherine Orchard took him in, and a temporary arrangement became a permanent one — the Orchards took over as his guardians.

Not that it was all smooth from there out.

"They've been great to me, never gave up on me," Orchard said. "I ran away a lot as a kid, was stubborn and didn't want to be in the environment. It was such a culture shock, but I made it work."

In addition to running away, he fathered a daughter at 15 (the girl was adopted).

However, Orchard’s life stabilized. He went to Utah and turned into an NFL prospect by showing enough pass rushing ability to record 18.5 sacks last season. Two years ago, he married his girlfriend from high school and also changed his last name, Fakahafua, assuming the name of the family that helped raise him from runaway teenager to potential pro football player. And when he and his wife had a daughter, they named her Katherine, in honor of Katherine Orchard.

"Being married and having the stability and realizing that football is the way that I am going to feed my family and I have to take it more seriously and do my work and become the best player I know I can be, and I did just that," he said.

[RELATED: Ed Reed retires from NFL]

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'I started to realize that I’m not broken': Steve Smith opens up about mental health and depression

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'I started to realize that I’m not broken': Steve Smith opens up about mental health and depression

Former Carolina Panthers' star receiver Steve Smith spoke in front of a crowd of over 400 people at the fifth annual Wake up for Wellness breakfast that was sponsored by Mental Health America of Central Carolinas.

The 16-year veteran and current NFL Network analyst touched on the importance of seeking help for bouts with depression and spoke of battles that he has faced with the disease.

“On the outside you’ll see a tough exterior. But on the inside, I’m just broken or I believe even more broken than the average man. ... Because when the stadium goes dark and the cheers stop, you’re still looking for that pat on the back,” Smith said. “Throughout my whole career, I struggled with that.”

Smith discussed that in the beginning, he was so concerned about the stigma regarding mental health, that he opted for the professional to meet him for housecalls, and as time passed he realized the importance of speaking up.

“I started to realize that I’m not broken,” he said. “I’m not being sent back to the manufacturer ... I get up every morning and figure it out.”

Smith's comments on the issue came to light just a day after the NFL and NFLPA announced new legislation that focuses on mental well being.

The newly formed Comprehensive Mental Health and Wellness Committee will develop programs for members of the NFL in addition to collaborating with local and national mental health and suicide prevention organizations. Each team will be mandated to retain a Behavioral Health Team Clinician for assistance that will be required to be available to players at the individual team facilities for at least 8-12 hours per week and must conduct mandatory mental health education sessions for players and coaching staff.


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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: What to look out for at OTAs

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: What to look out for at OTAs

Kick off your Thursday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news including what to watch for at OTAs.

Player/Team Notes: 

1. As the Ravens try and bolster their pass rush during the offseason, they hope to find much-needed help from outside linebacker, Shane Ray. The Ravens picked up Ray from the Denver Broncos where he had an unproductive last two seasons due to injury, only registering one sack in each of the past two seasons. However, Ray had a phenomenal career at Missouri as a unanimous All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2014. The Ravens have given Ray a shot at a career reboot and fans are excited to see what he's got.

2. Thursday is the media's first opportunity to get a look at the 2019-20 Ravens. Ravens writer Ryan Mink writes seven things to look out for at OTAs including, attendance from veterans even though OTAs are mandatory, a look at linebacker development with the signings of namely Pernell McPhee and Shane Ray and a first look at the rookie class to name a few.

Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Baltimore Ravens for news points.