Special to Sports News Highlights

(SNH) — When you watch professional athletes perform on the field or court or wherever they ply their trade, it’s easy to be awed by them.

Even the guys at the far end of the bench have incredible talent, and they can do things (like hit a 100-mph fastball, for example) that us mere mortals can only dream about.

It’s easy to be wowed by the physical prowess of pro athletes, but the mental aspect of any game cannot be overlooked. While fame and fortune are certainly nice, we can’t forget that these men and women are under intense stress and scrutiny, and that sometimes they crack.

After a tremendous 2022 in which he had 118 strikeouts in 62 innings, the Mets gave closer Edwin Diaz a huge new contract worth $102 million. After missing all of 2023 due to an injury suffered in the World Baseball Classic, Diaz was poised to continue where he left off in 2022. That hasn’t happened.

Thus far, Diaz has had several blown saves. After coughing up yet another lead, this time against the Giants, it was clear that he wasn’t right. When speaking to reporters after the game, he admitted that his confidence was low, and he seemed to have tears in his eyes.

In some cases, the pressure and personal demons are too much for athletes to bear. This was evident recently when news came out that golfer Grayson Murray took his own life after withdrawing from a golf tournament. A two-time winner on the PGA Tour, Grayson seemed to be a star on the rise. While he was open about his battle with depression and anxiety, as well as alcohol, he seemed to be in a good place.

After his win earlier this year at the Sony Open, Murray said his mental health was a major factor in why he drank, but that he had been sober for eight months. What he said after the win ended up being sadly prophetic:

“It's not easy. I wanted to give up a lot of times. Give up on myself. Give up on the game of golf. Give up on life, at times.”

Former NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel is another pro who has been open about mental health struggles. After his career flamed out and he faced an assault charge against his girlfriend, as well as pressure to go to rehab for drug addiction, he admitted to attempting suicide.

“I had planned to do everything I wanted to do at that point in my life, spend as much money as I possibly could and then my plan was to take my life,” Manziel said in a documentary about him that was released last year. “I wanted to get as bad as humanly possible to where it made sense, and it made it seem like an excuse and an out for me.”

Only a malfunctioning gun saved his life.

Another football player who hasn’t shied away from discussing his difficulties is Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott. After both his mother and brother died in 2020, Prescott said, “I started experiencing emotions I've never felt before,” and he later realized he was feeling both anxiety and depression. He also knew it was important not to hide this but to talk about it instead.

In 2021, Prescott started the “Faith Fight Finish” foundation, which is focused on a number of areas, including mental health and suicide prevention. The goal of the organization is to get people to ask for help when they need it.

When talking about Murray, Rory McIlroy perfectly summed up what everybody should keep in mind when it comes to pro athletes:

“Everyone has to remember that we go out and do things that a lot of people can’t, but at the end of the day we’re still human beings and we’re vulnerable and we’re fragile. And I think if there’s a lesson for anyone out there it’s just to be kinder to each other.”

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call the national suicide and crisis lifeline in the United States at 988 or visit their website at 988lifeline.org.

Follow Sports News Highlights on Facebook and X platform to get our headlines in your social feeds.

Copyright 2024 Sports News Highlights. All rights reserved.