Football is not forever. It’s an undeniable and ever-approaching reality for those that play in the NFL, but still something that players must find a way to cope with after they retire and try to adjust to a normal life.
For former New England Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who did not get to retire on his own terms, it was a tough reality.
Mitchell, a fourth-round pick by the Patriots in 2016, had his NFL career cut short due to lingering knee injuries. After impressing in his rookie season, including a six-catch performance in New England’s Super Bowl LI win over the Atlanta Falcons, Mitchell missed the entire 2017 campaign due to a knee ailment and ultimately was waived by the Patriots in training camp ahead of last season. Mitchell officially called it quits this past March.
Mitchell released a two-part film series that took a look inside how he is trying to move on from the game, and he further opened up on the some of the mental health issues he has dealt with since leaving the game.
“If you don’t have a foundation of who you are, outside of that sport, you’re going to be (expletive) outta luck. And that’s what happened to me,” Mitchell told NBC Sports Tim Layden. “I guess I knew I would have this breakup with football, someday. I just didn’t know how bad it would be on my mental health. It’s like I’ve been reincarnated, as somebody else. And I don’t want to be anybody else.
“I have to move on,” says Mitchell. “I know that. I have to come out of this grieving phase, and I’m working on that. I can’t stay here, because if I do, I’m as good as dead.”
Since retiring, Mitchell has published a children’s book called “The Magician’s Hat,” and founded a children’s literacy initiative called Read With Malcolm. The former wide receiver said he still loves the game and he stills plays catch when he can.