Former Panthers and Ravens wideout Steve Smith Sr. revealed a battle he's been fighting for over a decade.
Nineteen months after his retirement from the NFL, former Panthers and Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. detailed his fight with depression on Tuesday in an essay for NFL.com.
Smith joined former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins as the latest athlete to disclose his mental health battles over his career, discussing a topic he says is "too often taboo" in NFL circles.
"It's crucial for everyone to know that acknowledging personal struggles isn't a sign of weakness, but one of strength," Smith wrote. "Too often taboo, depression is shut behind closed doors—especially in a tough-guy sport like football, with a social media environment that glorifies successes and status."
The five-time Pro Bowler noted his first time seeing a mental health professional for non-football matters in 2013, his last season with Carolina. He continued with the practice through his tenure in Baltimore, and now into retirement. And Smith notes the progress he has made over the past half decade.
"But now, a year and a half has passed since my last NFL game, and for the first time in my life, I finally feel free," Smith wrote. "The best thing I ever did for my well-being was to seek help. I needed someone to help me comprehend how my mind deals with disappointment, grief, failure, etc.—and most importantly, how to prohibit that critical voice inside my head from defining who I am on an everyday basis."
A 16-year veteran, Smith hauled in 1031 catches and 81 touchdowns in his career. He holds the Panthers' franchise records for receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns.