For nine seasons Eddie George was an NFL star.
Fame, fortune and fans – they were all his in Nashville, and even nationally, George was larger than life.
Until suddenly, just like that, it was all over.
“That’s when reality punches you square in the face and that’s when the real game begins of life,” George said. “For me, it was a tough period trying to find out and figure out first of all, ‘What’s next? Who am I?'”
When asked which was harder – the identity crisis or being told you’re not good enough anymore – George said, “You know it’s going to end. You know you’re not good enough at some point and time.”
He said the loss of identity, purpose, value and even routing were all crippling.
“You know you go from going to the facility every day to waking up in your bed going, ‘Oh, man!’ If you have a wife, you’re looking at her and going like, ‘What do we do?’ It’s funny, but it’s scary in the same breath,” he said.
He continued, “[It’s supposed to happen at] 65, maybe 70, but when you’re 31 those are the questions I had to ask myself when I was in that position.”
George told News 2 he would rely on Ambien when he couldn’t sleep well at night.
“You know, for me it was one, one-and-a-half, then two, and I remember sitting at my kitchen table and we’re having a conversation like this and I pass out. The next thing I know, I’m waking up in my bed the next morning not knowing how I got there. That’s when I kind of knew, I said, ‘You know what? I need to seek out professional help in terms of where I am emotionally and spiritually and mentally and help me find my next path in life.'”
For that path, the football star turned to what he calls his “three E’s” – education, entrepreneurship and entertainment.
Now, he’s reinvented himself as a teacher, business owner and even a Broadway star.
But despite that success, George said his mental health is still a struggle.
“Every day,” he said. “It’s not like you go into cruise control. Just like anything else in life, it’s not going to be easy. You don’t go in cruise control and say, ‘I made it.’ You have to work at it and that’s ok.”