Erik Coleman – Recovery Soapbox Podcast
This time on Recovery Soapbox we talk to former NFL safety, Erik Coleman. Erik tells some great NFL stories, along with how addiction affected his childhood and how it affects his friends in the NFL now. Erik played in the NFL for 9 years and is now an advocate for NFL alumni in recovery.
During Erik’s childhood, his father was a truck driver and an alcoholic. His mother was a social worker and both she and his father were addicted to drugs. He vividly remembers the day in 5th grade when he came home from school and his father was gone. It wasn’t until three years later, that Erik finally heard from his father again.
Erik Coleman started getting recruitment letters when he was a sophomore in high school. Up until he started receiving those letters, Erik hadn’t even dreamed of being able to play football in college. It was a big surprise, especially since his dream at the time was to play in the NBA. The idea of college football started to become serious for Erik during his junior year in high school as he began getting scholarship offers and touring campuses. At that time Erik’s mother was in prison. This meant he had to go on recruiting trips by himself, decide on a college by himself, and it wasn’t until half way through Erik’s first year of college that his mother was released from jail. It really meant a lot to him to see his mother in the stands at one of his games after she was released. Erik was able to see his mother go back to school, start working on herself, become her own person, and a wonderful grandmother.
The trauma of Erik Coleman’s childhood caused him a lot of difficulty all the way into his professional career in the NFL. Erik would find himself battling “daemons”, feeling depressed, or insecure. He’d find himself asking, “I’m in the NFL, I’m successful, why don’t I have any self esteem?” Erik sought out professional help for his past trauma and was able to grow immensely as a person.
Erik Coleman played football college for Washington State and then went on to play for the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, and Detroit Lions. Erik is now a host on Jets Late Night on CBS2 and Jets Game Plan on SYN.
Erik Coleman – Quotes from this episode:
“I wasn’t the best athlete growing up. There were guys from my neighborhood that were faster, stronger, and more athletic than me, but I always worked hard and sacrificed a lot to focus on getting better.”
“What happens in the NFL when you get an injury? Most people pop a pill and get shots before games. You do whatever you have to do to get yourself on the field, so players will get dependent on these pills.”
“At the end of the NFL season 100% of the players are hurt. Everyone is playing through something. It’s a violent game and as long as it is, people are going to lean on medication, marijuana, or alcohol to cope.”
“People tend to be ashamed to admit that they are not perfect and to ask for help. Ask for help!”