Marcellus Wiley Has Some Thoughts on Calvin Ridley and Mental Health

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On yesterday's episode of Speak For Yourself, Marcellus Wiley and Emmanuel Acho discussed Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who has stepped away from football to focus on his mental health. Acho sounded like most of the voices in media who have had a somewhat surprising but entirely helpful epiphany over the last year as the issue has gotten more visibility and ubiquitous. Wiley took a different tact, as one can deduce from his tweet promoting the segment.

As with a lot of this stuff, it's worth listening to his entire five-plus minutes on the topic for full context.

There are a lot of avenues to explore off of this monologue but the one I want to focus on is the idea that those suffering from mental challenges need to fully explain themselves in order to win over the public. While this is undoubtably true and a huge segment of the population is unwinnable, putting that extra onus on someone already struggling feels like an added cross to bear. Wiley is correct in pointing out that sports require otherworldly talent from both body and brain and those who are able to stay healthy in both departments are set up for success while those who don't tend not to perform as well, or at the very least face a more difficult path.

Perhaps it's a misguided belief in the better angels of nature winning out but demanding that athletes spell out, in great detail, their specific challenges would do more harm than good. If it's being done as a guardrail against people taking advantage of the current climate, then it totally misses the whole point and goal of the openness. More people struggle to cogently describe why they aren't in a good headspace than would ever stoop so low to wear mental health as a shield against criticism.