Those questions — such as, would you rather be a Super Bowl champion or Hall of Famer? — are standard issue for teams vetting potential draft picks leading up to all-star games like Saturday’s Senior Bowl and at the NFL combine. What aren’t deemed acceptable anymore: the outlier questions that a player might find demeaning or embarrassing, a nod to the greater attention being paid to mental health concerns among athletes.
“I think it’s a good thing. A lot of people struggle with mental health and it’s really important to keep that in check. The questions can really expose people, so I think it’s a good thing that they protect us.”
Mental health professionals say the move is a step forward at a time when the spotlight has shined on the psychological well-being of athletes like Olympians Simone Biles and Michael Phelps, NBA star Kevin Love and former NFL receiver Brandon Marshall.
“Certainly, organizations look to protect their integrity and financial investments in players,” Dr. Stephen Ferrando, director of psychiatry for the Westchester Medical Center Health Network in New York, wrote in an email. “The efforts to uncover such problems, however, do not justify intrusive questioning of athletes. In fact, such questioning is likely to lead athletes to hide their problems out of fear of reprisal.
“Furthermore, such intrusive questioning may be based on assumptions, and this is likely to compound negative emotions. The NFL has taken a major step to reinforce boundaries when interviewing players.”
“Throughout the years in the NFL, there was always these kinds of offhand questions coming out of the interview process as college prospects were coming up through the ranks,” said Norman, who works with Buckeyes athletes. “I think it’s good they’re putting a little bit of structure behind that to kind of preserve players’ dignity. And also to be respectful of any type of mental health condition.”
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