A retired NFL football player, Reggie is looking ahead to a Master’s in counseling and to helping other athletes who are confronting histories of sexual violence.
"I'm so happy. I'm so grateful that I'm here, that I didn't kill myself, that my kids know I'm there for em, that I got to experience this."
"I had so much anger inside and rage inside and depression and sadness...but football was just that place I could just...let it out."
"Thank goodness I had football, until I could've worked that out...I don't know what would've happened if I didn't have football."
"It's something that definitely served to keep me from healing, too, because we're humans. We're feeling creatures."
"People build this image of what they think everyone wants to see or what they think they have to be, and then they project it out."
"It's just a band-aid. It's not fixing the actual problem, and I'm running from it. And each year that I played, I just became more aware of it."
"[My wife and I] really are best friends, and I never thought I could have a relationship like that with somebody—especially female."
"I'm really grateful for him, too, because...he listened."
"If bad things happen, I blame myself first. So the whole time, I'm just killing myself. And then in college...I was wild."
"[If I] see you down, I'm gonna pick you up. But the whole time I was going and doing that...I just wanted somebody to do that for me."
"Most of the things that I've dealt with I've had to deal with completely alone...and the only thing that was there was...that little voice."
"I spent 30 days at this treatment center just getting it all out, and thank God that that happened."
"Like mold...you wipe some off, but if you don't get it all off, it's gonna keep spreading."
"I think when I was maybe 13 or 14, it really hit me what was going on—what had happened."
"I have to be myself, and I have to be real. I've gotta be honest, and my kids have to see it. They can't see dad as [an] emotionless guy."
“That voice…was a big reason why I was so good at football, too, because nothing was ever good enough. I could never celebrate anything, though.”
A retired NFL football player, Reggie has had an ambivalent relationship to the game. Football was his therapy for years when he thought he had no option other than to bottle up the pain and anger that stemmed from nearly a decade of sexual abuse at the hands of a family friend. But eventually football became a trap, a game that bound him to violence that he no longer needed or wanted.
Reggie’s role in his family was the “glue,” the one who mediates disputes, the one who picks up everyone when they get down. So there was no room for Reggie to deal with the abuse.
“Luckily I found football.” It was a place where you could be as violent as possible and it was not frowned upon. In fact, violence on the football field was exalted. “I had so much anger, so much rage inside me. And depression, and sadness. Football was the place where I could let it out and then never have to deal with it again.” He played the game with abandon.
He played college football at Kansas State, and the pressure inside him was building. He drank a lot to help keep it down. He was deeply depressed, chronically suicidal, but he hid his pain from everyone, including his teammates.
Reggie’s breakthrough came while he was playing in the NFL. He had been falling apart all that day, and finally he just couldn’t hold it together. He went to bible study after practice and asked Pastor Chad, “Can I talk to you?” Pastor Chad listened, and got Reggie in touch with a counselor, and so began Reggie’s climb out of darkness.
Each year he played in the NFL Reggie realized more fully how football had always been his way of covering up his pain. After a six year career, he decided to walk away. Reggie returned to Kansas State University, this time purely as a student, to complete his undergraduate degree. His sights are now firmly set on earning a master’s degree in counseling, and on helping other athletes to climb out of darkness.