HomeDa Birds NewsLane Johnson Confronting Mental Health Challenges Head-On

Lane Johnson Confronting Mental Health Challenges Head-On

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PHILADELPHIA – Jason Kelce was the one who broke the news to Lane Johnson during a positional meeting.

The Philadelphia Eagles center told Johnson that he was the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. Kelce had a difficult time keeping his emotions in check when he did so.

“I think Lane has been an underappreciated player in the league for a long time,” said Kelce. “In particular, he’s not as out in the open or boisterous of a personality. But I think some of the things that he’s overcome and persevered through has helped a lot more people than people realize.”

Johnson’s battle with mental issues, such as anxiety and depression, have been well chronicled since early in the 2021 season when he returned home to deal with the pressure that he was feeling, missing three games.

“Since it became public here, I felt like instead of shying away from it, I felt like you could help a lot of people who may feel like they’re in similar situations or headspace,” he said. “I was kind of reluctant at first, but since it was public, I felt like instead of shying away from it, just address it and use it to help people.”

The Eagles’ right tackle, and one of the acknowledged best players in the league at his position, has spoken at schools, team functions, and various companies about his battle with those demons. Much of it has been unpublicized.

“It caught me by surprise, and it caught me off guard,” said Johnson of being nominated for the award. “I’m humbled and honored. I just think my job is to represent all the people that have helped me, and the position I’m in now is to help the community and serve those who have served me. So that’s really what it comes down to.”

Lane Johnson.Ed Kracz/SI Fan Nation Eagles today

The Eagles have had just three players ever win the award, which will be presented later in the season: Harold Carmichael (1980), Troy Vincent (2002), and Chris Long (2018).

Johnson has also helped players on other teams going through mental issues, so perhaps he could become the fourth Eagles player to ever do it.

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Whether he is or not, does not make the work he has done helping others any less significant.

“Everybody has different pressures on them,” said Johnson. “Some people bottle it up, some people don’t know how to handle it or address it, but I think when you see a public figure or somebody on the football team you see is a big strong man kind of get vulnerable and express how they dealt with it, I think it gives people courage to step out.”

Johnson has also done a lot of work for his high school alma mater, Kilgore High School in Kilgore, Texas, and, of course, he and Kelce have been close friends and teammates since Johnson entered the league in 2013 as the fourth overall pick, a year after Kelce arrived two years earlier in the sixth round.

“He’s like a brother,” said Kelce. “I’ve been with him for a long time. He’s got a wonderful personality. He’s talented at so many things. He’s funny. … He knows when to keep the mood light. He knows when to get after guys … He doesn’t have a lot of b—s— to him. I think that’s hard, really, in this age in general, because there’s a lot of that flying around.

“I think Lane’s on top of that. Just seeing him go through things in life, and stuff’s hard sometimes – in the building, out of the building – it can really challenge you. I think he’s responded beautifully, and I’m really proud of him for what he’s overcome and pushed through.”

Related: ‘Run The Ball!’: Eagles Fans Send Message to Coaching Staff Outside Facility

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