Football and football players have been under a negative spotlight of late with stories of domestic violence – so it’s a good time to offer a counterbalance, two incredibly moving stories of players coping with family issues. Besides being very touching, they also shed light on the enormous toll that family problems take on an individual. They present compelling testimony into the stressors that employees face when dealing with a serious family issues.
The first is the story of Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay, who volunteers and supports a Pittsburgh shelter for battered women. Gay knows firsthand the terrible toll that domestic violence can take – his mother was killed by his stepfather when he was 8 years old. You can hear his story below. He offers his thoughts on what the NFL should do to battle domestic violence.
“If we’re going to fix this problem in the NFL, our focus can’t be solely on what the punishments should be. The main priority needs to be helping victims—to show them how they can be heroes. The league needs to be asking, Why is this occurring? And how can we help prevent this? The NFL needs to focus on setting up programs that can help men and women have healthy relationships. Let players know about what facilities or services are available. We, as players, need to continue talking about this. Keep the issue of domestic violence in the conversation to raise awareness. That’s where our energy needs to be.”
Father / caregiver
The second story is one of a devoted father and caretaker who has had to put his career on hold to devote himself to helping his 4-year old daughter battle cancer. Devon Still is on leave as defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals. Leah is battling Stage 4 cancer and reportedly has a 50-50 chance of survival. The Bengals have been supportive as an employer – despite having to cut him from the roster, they have kept him on payroll on the practice squad and have also dedicated all proceeds from sales of Devon Still jerseys to pediatric cancer treatment and research facilities at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Within 24 hours, the sales of Still jerseys had outpaced those of any other player in Bengals history over a one-day span.
This past week, social media has been riveted by Devon Still’s Instagram account, including the touching clip of his pre-surgery pep talk to his daughter. While the surgery was successful, Still notes that there is still a long road ahead, including bone marrow treatments.
When complex employee issues arise, ESI EAP offers member employers direct access to Certified Senior Professionals in Human Resources (SPHR) and senior clinical counselors. If you need an Employee Assistance Program give us a call: 800-535-4841.