Former Badgers and 49ers linebacker Chris Borland made some waves after retiring from the NFL after one season. Now the Wisconsin All-American wants children and adults to take care of their mental health, as schools navigate in-person and virtual learning.
"The last five years have been something I couldn't have predicted," Borland says. "So, you know I quit football just in the interest of my health. And then was really thrust into this role as an advocate that I was reluctant to at first, but then embraced."
As an athlete, Borland never liked canned answers.
"Kind of rolled my eyes at like the Bull Durham answer that athletes would give to reporters, like one game at a time, God willing," Borland says.
Now he's helping athletes and parents transition their kids back into school, and sports.
"Checking out the Center for Healthy Minds, Richie Davidson's lab in Madison," Borland says. "So, centerhealthyminds.org. They also have an app, it's a really good meditation app called healthy minds. I think it's important, particularly for men and type A personalities in the sports world, to say 'hey it's normal to be concerned about endeavoring into the unknown.' I think sometimes people can be singularly focused and say, 'you know it's not safe. We can't do it.' And I think that's the right intention when it comes to the pandemic, because it is deadly. But the reality is, our mental health can suffer severely when we're young and we're stripped of our passion."
Borland retired from football, concerned about repeated head trauma. And got heat, including from those at Wisconsin.
"I've been outspoken too and I've been critical of the way football is done, and of the university specifically, so I'll take ownership of that," Borland says.
Now when he sees the game?
"No regrets," Borland says. "You know, there are times where I catch a glimpse of a game and see a guy, I know I'm a lot better than not playing linebacker that well, and he's you know making $60 million, where you know, I have a thought."