Hey everybody, our friendly neighborhood WFNY NFL Draft guru is dipping his foot in the WWW pool. Expect to see some more writing outside the scope of his football breakdowns in this space as he stretches out his writing subject matters. He’s not taking over the Monday slot full-time, but Jake will be participating in a timeshare with it. And, who doesn’t love a timeshare? Oh… OK, how about a platoon. Jake rakes southpaws.
There is little doubt in my mind life is a journey filled with lessons that build our character. Some don’t subscribe to this mindset as they have their own methodology for the occurrences that shift our course in different directions. That is fine. The beautiful part of this journey is that it is overtly subjective—no one path is universal for all.
Everyone is seeking that happiness in some form. The pursuit of happiness is what drives us, pushes us, shapes us. We all want to get there. I thought I was there in 2015, but I wasn’t. I was chasing a goal I didn’t actually want. My marriage, and surrounding life, fell apart. I found myself drudging through 2016 in the worst mental shape of my life, happy on the outside, but drained and genuinely depressed on the inside. Those closest to me could never have been able to tell. I was a healthy and successful young man except I wasn’t.
My goal was to keep it concealed. I viewed my depression consuming me as a sign of weakness. Thankfully, I am now not afraid to admit that tough time in my life pushed me to some dark places. Places no one would have thought my mind had wandered.
I have been able to climb out of that hole. I was fortunate enough to have the love of my life re-enter, and we are on a great path with our first child, a son, just weeks away from being born. I found an outlet and way back into the sport I love through WFNY’s coverage of the Cleveland Browns. I knew deep down my passion was to write and analyze football, and this wonderful site gave me an opportunity. I was lucky enough to find my slice of happiness, but I am sometimes reminded that the path to happiness can be quite circuitous.
I was reminded of those feelings with the suicide of Washington State’s Tyler Hilinski. On the surface Hilinski had it all. He had proven himself to earn a football scholarship, was a good looking young man, had shown himself fit for the starting quarterback job upon Luke Falk’s departure. Everything on the surface seemed perfect. So many close to Hilinski could not understand the decision he made, they just simply didn’t know he was feeling this way. I was personally struck by this.
How would anyone ever know?
I had been granted credentials to cover the Reese’s Senior Bowl,1 where Hilinski’s teammate Falk was pursuing his dream to be drafted into the NFL. Hilinski had spent his career thus far backing up Falk, and the two shared a close bond. Hilinski was expected to be the Cougars’ starting quarterback in 2018, replacing Luke Falk, who was training in Southern California for this weekend’s Senior Bowl when he got word of his former teammate’s death.
Falk (per the Seattle Times) announced Saturday that he would wear Hilinski’s No. 3 jersey instead of his own No. 4 this week at the Senior Bowl and told reporters Tuesday that he made the decision because “I felt like it’s what I needed to do.”
“He needs to be remembered,” Falk said. “He was an amazing person, an amazing soul. This guy was one of the most outgoing, bubbly (people). Just a guy you really want to be around, and people need to know it.”
Much of the debate throughout the week was centered around Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield’s late arrival, and his anticipated skipping of the game to be with his sick mother. While the focus was on Mayfield for the wrong reasons, I was most struck by Luke Falk’s decision to skip the Senior Bowl—a game he needed for his draft stock—to attend the funeral of his friend. Luke chose that route over his own ambitions and that struck something inside me.
What I am trying to tell you here is that sometimes we don’t know the burdens others carry. We don’t know the pain, suffering, and struggle they are shouldering. Take time for each other. Ask your closest family and friends simply how they are doing. And, if you are personally struggling, seek help. It carries zero appearance of weakness. In fact, those who seek help are the ones who are the strongest people. Those who care about you need you on this planet. There is never a reason to feel alone in this world.
As I was asked to write my first WWW, I was struck with this feeling. This site has brought me such happiness, and given me the opportunity to pursue something I truly love. It has given me that slice of happiness I was craving as I pursue my future. I hope everyone can find that little bit of happiness, because it such a wonderful feeling. And no matter the situation, your life is worth it.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255
- Unfortunately, I could not make the trek to Mobile as I chose to be close to my wife with the baby close to the due date [↩]