Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Baltimore Ravens

Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended for six games and joins other NFL players who have also been suspended in the past for physically abusing their wives and girlfriends. This group includes Baltimore running back Ray Rice, Jets receiver Quincy Enunwa, and former Giants kicker Josh Brown.

Though I haven’t seen the research I would bet they all have a number of things in common: When they were growing up and began showing extraordinary talent, coaches looked the other way when they got into trouble rather than disciplining them. The result was they developed a feeling of entitlement. They seldom shared their emotions and problems with others preferring to keep them bottled up inside themselves. They seldom cried because they were taught at an early age that it’s not “manly” to cry. Later in life when these young men developed relationships with young women and became frustrated they were unable to control their emotions, resulting in physical abuse. And this is why the NFL often requires them to take courses in anger management.

I’m not sure what these courses involve but I’ve learned from experience when you put these young men in support group environments and allow them to talk about their personal issues and problems with their peers, it’s much more effective than one-on-one counseling. You diffuse their anger resulting in much healthier athletes, psychologically. The result is they are less likely to physically abuse their wives and girlfriends.

Since 1986 I’ve been a Sport Psychology Consultant working with athletes and sports teams, most of them African-American, and I’ve found something that really is quite unique to that segment of our society.  That is, and this could be a cultural thing, many African-American parents actually encourage their male children to keep their feelings and emotions bottled up since it’s not “manly.”  In one instance, I even watched a mother discouraging her two year old son from crying and kept admonishing him for doing so.  Again, I could be wrong about this (that it’s cultural) and certainly there are many African-American parents who are loving and nurturing and encourage their male children to talk openly about their feelings and emotions, and these are the athletes I’ve found to be most well-adjusted and least likely to be involved in a domestic violence situation with a spouse.  Also, since some of these young men often make it to the NFL, I don’t understand why the NFL doesn’t require ALL teams to conduct group therapy sessions in the privacy of their own facilities allowing team members to openly discuss their personal problems (and feelings) with each other rather than keeping them bottled-up.  If they did, I think you would find the number of domestic violence cases in the NFL to be greatly diminished

I don’t think so. According to today’s USA TODAY, Manning was quoted as saying that he understands that he doesn’t have the luxury of time with his current crop of teammates, and certainly welcomes the addition of receiver Wes Welker. But as you’ll recall, four months ago when Denver lost in the playoffs in that double-overtime battle with the Ravens, head coach John Fox made a bad call that eventually cost the Broncos the game. With the score tied and 31 seconds remaining until the end of regulation playing time and the Broncos having two time-outs left, Peyton was instructed to take a knee. I’m sure that irked him and was probably one of the reasons he threw that interception in the second overtime that set up the Raven’s field goal that won the game for them. it seems to me that coach Fox, who has the final word in play-calling for the Broncos, was trying not to lose rather than trying to win. It was such an obvious error that even one of the television announcers asked: “Am I missing something?” So unless coach Fox changes his ways and decides to take risks on the field, the Broncos will never see the Super Bowl while Manning is playing for him.

There are many team owners and coaches who believe that creating support groups within their team structure to help athletes with personal problems and issues is “sissy stuff” and of little or no value.  And yet, all one has to do is look at the trouble that many young players are getting into during their careers and after retirement. Two examples are Rolando McClain and Chad Johnson.

According to a report in USA TODAY: “A day after he retired from the Baltimore Ravens following his third arrest in 16 months, linebacker Rolando McClain, 23, said his priority was cleaning up his off-field situation. ‘I have decided at this time,’ he said, ‘it is in my best interest to focus on getting my personal life together.’”

In the case of Chad Johnson, USA TODAY reported: “A warrant has been issued for the arrest of former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson in South Florida…for failing to report to his probation officer. Johnson received a year of probation in September after pleading no contest to a domestic violence charge involving his former wife, reality TV star Evelyn Lozada.”

It’s too bad these young men didn’t receive help while employed by their respective teams. Had they broken a leg there’s no doubt a physician would have been called in and x-rays taken. But no help is offered for an issue that may be entirely mental – such as misdirected anger – until the anger surfaces in a domestic quarrel.

What takes place away from the football field affects what takes place on the football field, both positive and negative. A good example of the positive was a well-kept secret by Joe Flacco and his wife Dana. According to USA Today, the following took place at a post-game family party: “Joe and Dana gathered their parents around a table for the evening’s other piece of good news, which they whispered in the loud and crowded room: Dana is pregnant with the couple’s second child. Coincidentally, Flacco’s parents learned about the first child, who is 7 ½ months old, after the Ravens beat the 49ers on Thanksgiving night in 2011.” When athletes are happy and their lives are in harmony, they create positive events in their lives and perform close to their skill levels on a consistent basis.


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