Football’s great, but it doesn’t save lives

The great thing about having this space each week is, well, that I get to be me. And as you continue to read this newspaper, you’ll find out who I am from a professional and personal standpoint. Years of practice allow me to intertwine both sides.

I’m not someone who blows the trumpet about myself. I just keep my face in the community, I proact, act, react and start the process over again. If there’s a question for me, I’ll answer. If there’s a comment about our work, I’ll read. Or I’ll listen. If necessary, I will clarify.

The standard idea for a week like this would be to write about the opening of high school football season in Texas … you know, the other Mardi Gras season around here … or whether Jamaal Charles or Adrian Peterson is the LeBron James of the NFL.

Really, I need to get my fill of Friday night action, just like many of you, so I can further delve into it from a personal standpoint. Trust me, I’m anxious to.

But if you’re like me, on a week like this, I want football to help me redirect my mind from tragedy and confusion.

A few hours into the rise of the Wednesday morning sun, I couldn’t help thinking about Ricky Williams, Brandon Marshall, Metta World Peace and others who share their fight against mental illness. Maybe only after their personal travails became public did such a battle become public, but somewhere along the way, they allowed us to join them in the fight.

By us, I mean those who know mental illness — not limited to depression — is every bit a physical injury and those who (in)directly fight the war against it, which I must say is not an aggressive-enough war.

If it were, the man suspected of killing a television reporter and cameraman on the air in Virginia might have had the help he needed well in advance.

If this isn’t what you expect in a sports column and you want to quit reading, I understand. I’m just being I.C. Murrell the total person. Sports are just a means for me to understand life and the people who interact in it every day.

But understand this: I’ve only had three weeks here to soak in Texas life, waiting for tonight and hitting the football scene. My mind was supposed to be on football Wednesday morning and getting my satellite service set up.

Then, I saw tragedy unfold. And that suspect — who later killed himself to no joy of my own — really got me thinking.

What’s worse, the issues he faced in his mind were not thoroughly addressed from a medical standpoint. That’s the root of the problem.

Until Williams, Marshall and World Peace understood that in their own lives, they couldn’t get better. Now, they’re my heroes because they’re blowing the trumpet for a greater battle. No gun safety discussion is necessary.

So, it’s two days later. It’s a new season. Something we all look forward to.

But whether Memorial, Nederland, Port Neches-Groves or Sabine Pass wins or loses doesn’t save or destroy a life like talking with people and being proactive and reactive do. Sports as a whole just make life in Texas better, which is a blessing for me all the more.

If you understand that, this column was well worth writing.

I.C. Murrell can be reached at 721-2435 or ic.murrell@panews.com. On Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

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