Wednesday's New York Times interview with Shawn Andrews was more for people who were unaware of the Eagles offensive lineman's battle with depression than for plugged-in Eagles fans. (The news, by the way, that depression was causoing Andrews to miss the start of training camp last year was broken on this site, by the Daily News.) But some interesting points were touched upon by Times writer Jere Longman, formerly of the Inquirer.
Lurking the in the background of Andrews' struggles has been the question of whether he really loves playing football the way, say, Brian Dawkins or Jon Runyan does. Longman explores that theme:
Perhaps most revealingly, Andrews said he believed that, to some extent, he was forced into football as a sixth grader because he was big, not because he particularly loved the sport. He said he had not watched a complete professional football game unless he was playing in it.
Having broken his right fibula in his rookie season and having missed most of last season with a back injury, Andrews said he worried that physical impairment from football might restrict him in the future from playing with his son. He will discourage JaShawn from participating in the sport, he said.
He said he understood that some people had little sympathy for a highly paid professional athlete, that even some of his teammates might feel he was exaggerating, or using depression as an excuse for an indifference to football. “That’s fine,” he said. “I don’t work for them. They don’t pay my bills. They don’t take care of my family."
Later in the story, Andrews returns to the theme of fearing disability:
“All the physical anguish I’ve been through, the thought of not being able to get up and play with my son, that really keeps my mind going every day,” Andrews said.
He sees some of his teammates dropping items and struggling to bend and pick them up.
“I don’t want to live like that,” Andrews said.
Andrews also recounts a very strange tale of how he came to believe a former friend, turned down when he requested money, was going to try to kill him, before his 2004 rookie season.
To read our previous post on DeSean Jackson's visit to a Delaware County middle school, click here.