Ryan Tannehill’s candor should serve as a reminder to all of us

On the surface, Ryan Tannehill is doing pretty well.

He averages nearly $30 million a year as quarterback for the Titans. He is in the middle of a four-year, $118 million deal with $91 million guaranteed.

Away from the football field, he has a beautiful wife and what appears to be a beautiful life.

On the field, he’s not Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes or Joe Burrow. But Tannehill is an above-average player for his position, having won more games (72) than lost (59) and has more touchdown passes (199) than interceptions (102).

Still, Tannehill opened a vein Tuesday when he spoke to reporters during an offseason media availability, revealing that he’s still reeling from the Titans’ 19-16 playoff loss to the Bengals and his poor play in that game and that he sought therapy an attempt to deal with it.

We in the media and as fans so often assume that the professional athletes we report on and watch are unaffected, that the millions of dollars they make can ease the pain that comes with failure goes along with the field.

We assume these athletes don’t care as much as the fans who live and die with their teams.

However, the reality that we sometimes struggle to grasp is that the mental health struggle is just as real for even the highest paid and most well-known athletes as it is for the rest of us trying to navigate life’s daily difficulties.

Ryan Tannehill

If you don’t know Tannehill — and I don’t know him, except that I’ve interviewed him in group situations — it would be easy to assume he’s immune from the multiple millions he makes and the seemingly perfect life he leads this fight.

But on Tuesday, Tannehill was very transparent in letting us know he wasn’t, calling that playoff loss five months ago “a deep scar” and adding that he had “reached a dark place” as a result.

“Every time I closed my eyes, I watched the game again,” Tannehill told reporters. “It took a while, a lot of work to get out of there. I worked through it but therapy, talking to people, time helped. It took a lot of work to get through that.”

Admitting underperforming among professional athletes is not a very common occurrence. When they do, it’s somewhat refreshing because of their honesty and because it lets the so-called working class see that they are not alone.

Golfer Scottie Scheffler, after winning the Masters in April, revealed he woke up on the morning of the final round sobbing uncontrollably. He told his wife he didn’t think he could take the pressure to quit the tournament and wondered aloud if he was “ready” for such a big moment.

Scheffler’s wife talked him out of his emotional breakdown over breakfast, and he went out and claimed the green jacket that afternoon, his first major championship.

Ryan Tannehill is fired during the Titans’ playoff loss to the Bengals.

Tannehill had three damaging interceptions in that loss to the Bengals in the AFC division playoff round, and they all still haunt him. For Tannehill and the Titans, the loss was a blast considering Tennessee had won first place and home field advantage in the AFC playoffs.

After a mediocre six years in Miami and a 42-46 win-loss record without a playoff berth, Tannehill is 30-13 as the Titans’ starters but only 2-3 in the postseason, including losses in his last three games.

But it was that loss to the Bengals, who later played in the Super Bowl, that nagged Tannehill enough to seek help. Tannehill said he’s sought therapy in the past, but “this is the first time I’ve desperately needed it to pull me out of a dark room.”

Tannehill’s offseason took a tumultuous turn during last week’s draft when the Titans traded No. 1 wide receiver AJ Brown to the Eagles and used the picks they received to draft rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks.

“I was shocked,” Tannehill said.

The Titans threw another curveball to Tannehill in the third round when they selected Liberty quarterback Malik Willis.

Tannehill then drew criticism when he said of Willis: “I don’t think it’s my job to mentor him. But if he learns from me on the side, that’s a great thing.”

On Wednesday, ESPN reported that the Titans had been scouting the market for Rodgers and Deshaun Watson this offseason before agreeing to draft Willis as Tannehill’s possible heir.

Life isn’t always as perfect as it seems – even for those who seem to have everything. Ryan Tannehill’s candor should serve as a reminder to all of us


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