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Ex-NFL Players Talk To Camp Pendleton Marines About Depression


Former NFL wide receiver Hank Baskett

Former National Football League players spoke out at Camp Pendleton earlier this week about the emotional challenges they faced leaving the NFL. The players hoped to inspire Marines getting ready to leave the military and transition to the civilian world.

Brig. Gen. Vincent A. Coglianese said in a Camp Pendleton news release that the event was part of the Real Warrior Campaign:

“The Real Warrior Campaign is a campaign where the Department of Defense partners up with NFL players to give them an opportunity to tell their story to the Marines. The NFL players talk about the challenges they faced when leaving the NFL and going back into the civilian life.”

Former NFL wide receiver Chris Sanders told the audience of Marines and families about his transition from NFL star to everyday guy:

“When I retired from the NFL, that’s when my war started. You’re talking about a guy who played in the super bowl, who broke Jessie Owens’ long jump record, who made the all-rookie team, who did great things in the NFL … who wanted to commit suicide, was depressed, afraid to get help. I went through so many things. But until I reached out and got some help, that’s when my life changed.”

Cpl. Bret Apopaca, a radio operator with 1st Marine Division, said listening to the players talk gave inspired him:

“It’s very brave of them to be able to stand up in front of all of us and talk about their personal experiences. Hank Baskett is my idol, and I would have never thought he went through any of the things he talked about.”

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