Former Chiefs Star Opens Up About Going to 'Dark' Place After Football

Former Kansas City Chiefs star RB Jamaal Charles has opened up about his mental health struggles following his NFL career.
Former Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles has gone in-depth about his mental health struggles.
Former Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles has gone in-depth about his mental health struggles. / Sara Diggins/American-Statesman / USA

With three Super Bowls in the last five seasons, it's easy to forget what the Kansas City Chiefs were like before the Patrick Mahomes era. From 1998 to 2014, the Chiefs only qualified for the NFL playoffs four times and failed to win in each of those appearances.

It was a tough time being a Kansas City fan during that stretch, however, one man who made the struggles easier to swallow was Jamaal Charles. One of the most fun running backs to watch during his playing career, Charles was a fan favorite across the Chiefs fanbase, racking up over 9,700 scrimmage yards with 63 touchdowns across nine seasons.

Unfortunately, a series of serious injuries prevented Charles from reaching his true potential and forced him to hang up his cleats in 2019. Life after football can be tough on a player — especially when injuries are in the equation — and the 37-year-old has since opened up about some of the struggles he's dealt with in retirement.

Chiefs News: Jamaal Charles Opens About Post-NFL Struggles

Charles appeared on the NFL's "Second Acts Podcast" last week to discuss his induction into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, as well as his post-career experience. The five-time 1,000-yard rusher didn't mince words when talking about his struggles, revealing that he went to a "dark place" because "no one came forward to guide me through the transition to life after football."

One of the biggest hurdles that Charles faced had to do with money. The ex-Texas Longhorn described how he lost a lot of money after attempting to invest it, which resulted in his "becoming very depressed and suicidal." He added that the toughest part was not knowing who he could trust for support.

Charles saw over $41.7 million in career earnings across his 11-year career, per Spotrac. Before calling it a career, he joined the Chiefs on a one-day contract in 2019 so he could properly retire after taking a handoff from Mahomes on the practice field.

Fortunately, Charles' mental health issues didn't get the better of him. The four-time Pro Bowl RB began seeing a therapist about his suicidal thoughts and depression, which helped pull him out of the darkness. Even though he's in a much better space now, he added that he's still seeing his therapist to this day.

Charles also spoke about how injuries from his playing career still affect him to this day, resulting in his feeling like he's 70 years old at times. During his nine-year run in Kansas City, the Port Arthur, TX native missed 41 of a possible 144 games (28.5%) with 24 of those absences coming in his final two seasons with the Chiefs.

"My body probably feels like I'm 70... I might be here and look like I'm happy, but at the same time... people don't understand what I'm going through. They just think of my appearance, but they don't really know what's behind my appearance. "

Jamaal Charles

In a world where men often feel pressure to not share their feelings and thoughts, it's nice to have Charles bringing attention to an important topic. He added that he wants anyone with mental health struggles to know that people care and that help is out there.

Hopefully, any struggling athletes or fans take note of what Charles said because there's absolutely nothing wrong with prioritizing your mental health. If one of the most badass running backs of all time can do it, so can you.

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