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Setbacks, Fears and Asking for Help


Jan. 1, 1970

Dear Fellow Former Players & Friends,

I’m on a plane headed to London for an international conference on player care services. Who would have thought so many years ago that we would be at this point right now, an international conference on player care? As professional athletes, we speak the same language, suffer the same setbacks, have the same fears and need the same kind of help.

During my first few months on the job at the NFLPA, a player called saying he was locked out of his motel room because the bill hadn’t been paid. The motel room was where he had been living.  If that wasn’t enough, it was Christmas Eve and standing there with his kids the presents were locked inside.  Legally separated from his wife, it was his turn to have the kids on Christmas eve. A sad truth of a player just hoping to do his best during a difficult transition. Fathers, go there with me for a second and imagine how that must feel. Let that settle in. The story did have a happy ending because he was brave, took action and asked for help.

The Professional Athletes Foundation has come a long way over the past 15 years. In that time frame, we’ve supported the Living Heart Foundation’s cardiovascular screening program and have screened over 5,000 former NFL players for research. In 2006, we launched a depression study with the University of Michigan. Over 1,600 former players responded. The results have showed a high prevalence of depression among former players, leading us to a program with the University of Michigan Depression Center and hiring the first social worker at the NFLPA, Tyrone Allen. I can still hear the players singing ‘You Better Call Tyrone ‘upon his first introduction to the player community.

From there we developed programming which has evolved into our current YOU.0 program. The program focuses on marriage and family, self-help and personal wellness. At the YOU.0 seminars we come together, share our stories of overcoming difficult situations and cry together as a family, a fraternity of players, if you will. We all have so much in common.

The PAF has provided assistance and support services to more than 3,000 former players and their families, and we can help create stability in your life. 2017 has been another record year, as we are providing much needed assistance and support to more than 460 players.  From Tyrone, Caryl, Leslie and me, we are the Professional Athletes Foundation. Action creates opportunity and help is just a phone call away.  If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask.  You are not alone. Be brave and take action!

Andre Collins

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Executive Director
Professional Athletes Foundation
NFL Player 1990-1999

Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust Fund

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