Chiefs’ Willie Gay Jr. opens up about his mental health issues


In mid-October – just as he joined the Kansas City Chiefs roster after being injured in the reserve since the end of the 2020 season – second-year linebacker Willie Gay Jr. posted on twitter on his mental health.

“Well I’m proud of [Gay] for mentioning it, ”head coach Andy Reid said after Gay played in this weekend’s game against the Bison Tickets. “A lot of people don’t mention it, which I think is a great tribute to the kid for presenting it. We have Dr. T (Dr. Shaun Tyrance) here, which we’re happy to have, so he’s able to talk to her and fix the issue. I think it’s a beautiful thing. So many people keep this under wraps, and dire things are happening. I’m just glad he came up with it.

Gay spoke to reporters for the first time since his cryptic social media post on Saturday, taking the opportunity to share a glimpse of what was going on at the time.

“I was going through some things, man,” he recalls. “In life, you know, people think these NFL players are bulletproof or whatever. We are taught to grow up to stay the course and get on with your day – and to avoid distractions. But I got to the point where I was like “I can’t move this” and I had to tell my coaches [and] the people I work with.

Gay said he felt stressed by everything that was going on in his life for a long time.

“You have real life and you have football,” he explained. “You have what people think happened, and then you have what is really going on – since high school [and] University. I still remember from college recruiting, man, when the real stretch really started – and it hasn’t stopped since then.

Photo by William Purnell / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Gay said getting into the pros made it all the more stressful.

“Coming to the NFL, where people think everything is perfect – you have a little bit of money and you play on Sunday – you just have to stay humble and let people know, ‘I’m still human at the end of the day . I still have feelings. I am still angry. I am always stressed. I can [make] 10 tackles and still be stressed. You just gotta be sure to balance it out, man.

But his public announcement did more than just garner praise from his head coach. Gay said he receives support from everyone in his life.

“Everyone was texting me,” he remembers the time that followed his message. “Everyone was watching me – from the coaches to the coaching staff, to the equipment staff, of course, all of my teammates – to make sure I was okay and that I was here because they know me well. They know when I have one of these days; I feel like a guy that when I’m having a good day you’re going to know it – and when I’m not you can definitely tell.

“But they did a really good job, man, keeping me on track and helping me.” A simple “Are you okay, brother?” Goes a long way.

Gay said he was fine now and had a new baby boy.

“Sometimes,” he said, “you just gotta let this stuff out, man – so you [can] pass. “

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