Marcus Smith was the Eagles’ 1st round draft pick in 2014 and didn’t have a lot of success on the field. He played three seasons in Philadelphia before his release, then wrapped up his NFL career following brief stints with the Seahawks and Washington Football Team.
Smith was considered a “reach” at the time, a defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid who excelled at Louisville. He was named the AAC Defensive Player of the Year as a senior when he logged 14.5 sacks, a number that was good for second in the country.
In a story published Wednesday at The Players Tribune, he details a 2018 suicide attempt, explaining that he was going to drive his car off a Seattle cliff before receiving a phone call from his wife:
I sat there at the top of the hill, and I got close. Really close. But then my phone rang. It was my wife. She was seven months pregnant with our first child at the time. I was in such a bad place — I was so lost — that it didn’t matter what she said to me. I rushed her off the phone. Told her not to worry. I edged the car closer to the top of the slope. I put a wheel over the edge. I vividly remember it hovering there.
Smith says he then received a call from his mother-in-law, and told her what he was planning to do. She helped relax the situation, and he drove to the Seahawks’ practice facility instead:
I got inside, found the trainers and told them that I’d tried to kill myself. They brought Pete (Carroll) down right away. I told him, “Coach, I can’t do this right now. I need to get help.” I had tears pouring down my face and was barely able to express myself. I just felt hopeless.
He said, “Football doesn’t matter anymore, Marcus. All you need to worry about is getting yourself healthy. Because you as a person, you as an individual … you have a family to protect. That’s all that matters.”
The Seahawks released me the next day in order to allow me to seek the help I needed. They helped me connect with a therapist. They listened to me and truly played a part in saving my life. I will forever be grateful to them.
He goes on to explain that the therapy sessions helped him rediscover himself. He talks about an anxiety that caused a lack of proper eating and sleeping, which then exacerbated the anxiety as part of a vicious cycle. Smith is now dedicating his life to highlighting mental health and how men approach the topic in 2020:
I want to be there for the men who grew up not knowing about mental health, or completely avoiding it. Depression, anxiety, suicide — these issues are big, and impossible to tackle on our own. But I know if I can play a small part in the fight — if I can lend an ear or pull a car back from going over the edge — then I will know that my journey has been worth it.
It’s a great read, and worth your time. It’s a good reminder that guys we considered draft “busts” or failures are still human beings, and that the struggle to find your identity after football can be incredibly difficult. Kudos to Marcus Smith for coming out and sharing his story.
Here’s the full story: