NEW YORK – In an offseason marked by Junior Seaus suicide and scores of lawsuits over brain injuries, the NFL on Thursday launched a comprehensive wellness program for current and retired players – including a confidential mental health phone line.
There is no higher priority for the National Football League than the health and wellness of our players, Commissioner Roger Goodell said in an email Thursday to more than 11,000 players announcing NFL Total Wellness. This service is here for you.
An outside agency will run NFL Life Line, a free consultation service to inform players and family members about the signs of crisis, symptoms of common mental health problems, as well as where to get help. Experts in suicide prevention and substance abuse are among those involved in developing and administering the program.
The website for the program also features special video messages from various NFL stars, including Brett Favre, Michael Irvin, Michael Strahan, Herschel Walker, Jevon Kearse and Cris Carter, urging players to get help and letting them know they are not alone.
Shannon Jordan, president of the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, a charity for NFL retirees who need health care, said the program is long overdue.
Unfortunately sometimes it takes a tragedy to put something together quicker, but were just happy that its finally here and well keep expanding on it, said Jordan, who is part of the NFLs effort.
There are a lot of pieces that still need to be worked out, but we couldnt be more elated to be able to refer guys to a program like this and hopefully save a lot more lives.
Vilma hearing ends
A hearing in federal court in New Orleans for suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma wrapped up without an immediate decision about whether he can temporarily return to work in the wake of the bounty scandal. Vilma is trying to persuade U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan to impose a temporary restraining order while his lawsuit against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell proceeds.
Jacksonville reported for training camp without running back Maurice Jones-Drew and first-round draft pick Justin Blackmon. Jones-Drew failed to show up for check-in Thursday, still seeking a new contract. Owner Shad Khan and general manager Gene Smith have said they have no plans to negotiate a new deal with their star player. Blackmon is one of a few rookies who remains unsigned. Complicating negotiations is that the fifth overall pick pleaded guilty to aggravated DWI in Oklahoma this week.
Kansas City signed free agent offensive tackle Tony Ugoh, a former Colts player. The Chiefs also signed first-round pick Dontari Poe, a nose tackle.
Minnesota signed tackle Matt Kalil, the Vikings top draft pick. Safety Dashon Goldson signed his $6.2 million franchise tender and reported to San Franciscos training camp on time.
Tampa Bay traded defensive tackle Brian Price to Chicago for a draft pick next year.
Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch entered a not guilty plea after his driving under the influence arrest July 14 in Northern California. Jets All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis reported for training camp. Revis wants the Jets to rework the $46 million, four-year deal he signed in 2010.