|Photo Credit: moodsofnorway|
Grantland tells his story:
"People forget that I'm a human being, just because I play a sport that everybody loves," he says. "We're human. We're not invincible. We share the same feelings and emotions that people on the outside feel. I don't think people really understand that."
Then, unprovoked, he brings up the suicide of Junior Seau.
"You think about some of the things that Junior Seau was going through," he says. "You never know what a person is going through, regardless of how much money they make or however great a life you think they're living. You just really never know."
There are already incidents with pills and hospitals in his past. He knows people worry about him going out the same way. He knows others root for it.
"Everything that I've gone through since the end of 2010, from me finding out about my financial adviser stealing, mismanaging my money — that affected everything, from child support, mortgages, to me having to sell my properties, me being in and out of court trying to modify my child support. It's just everything. It's a lot to deal with at one time. My grandmother passing. Going through a relationship with my ex-girlfriend, Kari. All those things. I swear, I felt like I was just standing there and I had a firing squad going at me."
He's tense. As he speaks, he's looking at the synthetic green turf of the soccer field. He's not the only person to contemplate suicide, he says. "Again, if I'm saying what a lot of people have thought or think, why am I wrong for saying it? When I say, who hasn't probably thought of that? Am I wrong for saying somebody has thought about, Is it worth living? Just because I'm a figure and I say sometimes what people are thinking, that's not wrong. I'm not less of a person or a mental case because I say that."
This has felt like the longest year of his life. From the outside, it looks like the most consistent heel in modern sports is finally meeting his fate. But to the man, it feels like the Fates are testing everything he knows about life. He says he's been struggling lately.
"A lot of emotional stress that people go through, some people figure out a way to handle it," he says. "They have a strong enough support system to keep going and keep moving forward. And some people, they feel like they don't have that outlet. Some people are too prideful to go out and reach out to people to help them in that situation because it's just such a dark time."T.O. is no different than the rest of us. Though blessed with tremendous athletic ability and a work ethic that few of us can touch, he still has a void in his life that can't be filled through fame, fortune or females. I pray that he will find a real relationship with God before it's too late.
To read the rest of the lengthy Grantland piece on T.O's post-NFL life please click here.