The emptiness is inevitable, inescapable and, sometimes, fatal. Once pro football is through with you, count on it spitting you back out into society a concussed and confused man, searching for purpose.
Jamal Lewis remembers the feeling well.
You just kept it to yourself, he says, and you dealt with it. You let it out on the field.
Without that outlet—without a linebacker to smash into—suicidal thoughts creeped into his mind and spread like a virus.
One by one, he saw three of his former offensive linemen die from health-related issues. Orlando Bobo to heart and liver failure. Orlando Brown to diabetic ketoacidosis. Damion Cook to a massive heart attack. Suicide seemed like a better way to go.
While there were only a few players kneeling during the anthem at the end of last season, two are currently on the Giants’ roster. Star defensive end Olivier Vernon got down on one knee during every game last season. Safety Michael Thomas, signed in March as a free agent after five seasons in Miami, has gone down on a knee during the anthem much of the past two seasons to support the movement started by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016. Shurmur said the Giants are going to let things settle before talking about the new rule as a team. I know certainly for me, it’s very easy,Shurmur said Tuesday after a practice at an organized team activity.
I’m going to face the flag and take my cap off and listen to the anthem and be thankful that my family and I live in the greatest country in the world, and be able to kind of reflect on and be thankful for all the sacrifice that a lot of people have gone to, to help protect and secure our freedom.Vernon did not respond to several requests to appear for an interview after practice. Thomas said he wanted to discuss the new rule with fellow players and Giants co-owner John Mara before commenting. I am not committing to anything right now,Thomas said. Just talking with my brothers and continuing to fight for our communities.