CANTON, United States - Depression in the wake of severe head injuries played its role in Saturday's induction ceremonies at the American Football Hall of Fame, where eight legends of the game were enshrined.
The late Junior Seau, a former San Diego Chargers star elected in his first season of eligibility, and defensive end Charles Haley, who waited until his sixth, were inducted after stellar careers but major health issues as well.
Concussions and player health have become prominent issues in recent years, in part because of some of the issues faced by former players.
After battling depression and behavioral changes, Seau died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest in 2012 at the age of 43. The Pro Football Hall of Fame reversed itself and allowed Seau's daughter, Sydney Seau, to speak at the induction ceremony after the unveiling of her late father's Hall of Fame bust.
Haley was passionate in his speech, admitting being diagnosed with manic depression by his ex-wife Karen but not wanting to accept it.
"I thought she was just like the group of guys that wanted to always put me in this box," he said. "So we had problems after that, and I never really listened, nor did I step up to the plate and do something about it. My life spiraled out of control for years.
"But today, I am getting back into the locker room, to my teammates, and tell them the mistakes that I've made, and that the only way that you can grow is that you've got to ask for help.
"I walked into the league a 22-year-old man with a 16-year-old inside of me screaming for help, and I would not ask for it. I would not ask for that help. But today, I take my medicine every day, and that's because I finally listened." Others inducted into the Hall of Fame included receiver Tim Brown, running back Jerome Bettis, guard Will Shields and 75-year-old center Mick Tingelhoff from the seniors committee as well as contributors Bill Polian and Ron Wolf, both former general managers.