The growing list of professional athletes who are talking openly about the mental stresses away from the game now includes Houston Texans star DeAndre Hopkins. The former Clemson wide receiver sat down, actually in the back of a stretch limo, with Snoop Dogg this week for an episode of “The Grind,” the new show on EPIX hosted by Rich Eisen, that is giving fans a deeper look inside of the biggest and brightest stars in the NFL.
During the wide ranging interview Snoop and Hopkins talked a great deal about the pressures beyond the game that can drag down the elite athletes today, pressures which in another generation which may have gone unspoken. Today, with stars ranging from Michael Phelps to Kevin Love, elite athletes are admitting to not just the pressure, but how the deal with them.
“Yes I need counseling sometimes,” Hopkins said during the sitdown on the way to practice last week. “I need to get my emotions in order as I try to get focused and set things straight, it has been a big help.”
Snoop applauded the admission by the Texans quarterback, saying that “It’s OK to get things fixed and seek help. For years that wasn’t acceptable in the black community. It’s OK to admit being vulnerable, it’s the only way we get better.”
Hopkins’ mother, Sabrina Greenlee, has been a constant inspiration in his life and was no stranger to the issues of life away from the game. She was blinded in 2002 when a woman, who was also dating Greenlee’s boyfriend unbeknownst to Greenlee previously, threw a boiling mixture of lye and bleach in her face. The incident burned her face and cost Greenlee her eyesight in her right eye and 40 percent of her sight in her left eye as well as suffering burns on over 17 percent of her body. Her attacker was charged with assault and battery with intent to kill and received a 20-year prison sentence.
Greenlee has raised four children as a single mother, including Hopkins, and he has raised money and awareness about domestic violence. Hopkins’ mother is an advocate for domestic violence survivors through her foundation: S.M.O.O.T.H. Inc (Speaking Mentally, Outwardly Opening Opportunities Toward Healing), and those pressures outside the game, including the issues of violence in the black community, were discussed throughout the piece. “We need young leaders like you to lead and heal, and you are getting it done,” Snoop Dogg added.
The show airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. ET for 17 weeks, and has gotten great response for its frankness and deep dives into the lives of players in and around the NFL. Upcoming contributors to the series also include Pro Football Hall of Famers Ed Reed, Charles Woodson, Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens, along with legendary stars DeMarcus Ware, Clinton Portis and Michael Vick, all of whom will be on the road documenting some of the unique and never before told stories of coaches, players and personnel around the NFL.