http://q.usatoday.com/2013/11/20/shawn- ... ia-eagles/
Andrews says time in Philly was 'living hell'
Donovan McNabb mocked him during emotional speech
By CHRIS KORMAN
AP GIANTS ANDREWS FOOTBALL S FBN FILE USA PA
Shawn Andrews had a short, enigmatic run with the Philadelphia Eagles. Injured in the first game of his rookie season, the offensive lineman came back to make the Pro Bowl three years in a row before mysteriously leaving the team briefly, only later saying he was being treated for depression, in 2008. He dealt with a series of back injuries, too, and like so many NFL careers, his dissipated unremarkably.
Now, spurred on by the bullying of Jonathan Martin by Richie Incognito, Andrews has decided to describe his troubles dealing with the culture of the Eagles’ locker room. He has twice criticized former quarterback Donovan McNabb, first to a Philadelphia radio station and now in an interview with Sync Weekly, a magazine affiliated with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
His summary — “It just felt like I was in a living hell,” — is sweeping across the internet.
The details he provides aren’t nearly as attention-grabbing as that voice mail Incognito left Martin. His story, though, underscores the need for change in the NFL.
We learned that much from the way many NFL players shrugged off Incognito’s use of insensitive and threatening language. It did not register with them that this is not something considered OK in the course of normal life, or that there are people — even ones good at football — who would struggle to deal with it. They also failed to recognize any sign of distress in Martin, a teammate they spent so much time with.
Andrews, an All-Pro caliber player, felt similarly ignored, even after requesting a trade and despite making an emotional speech to the team about his struggles with depression.
That has to change. As has been said by others, a torn ACL or broken tibia is clearly seen as an injury by NFL players. But they must come to recognize mental issues as being in the same category — especially as we learn more and more about how brain damage can cause depression. Andrews describes a time when he considered purposely flipping his car in hopes of being paralyzed. That’s a sign of mental illness, and it matches thoughts expressed by scores of former players dealing with brain trauma.
To hear Andrews tell it — McNabb defended himself on the radio Wednesday — the Eagles never made it easy for him.
Andrews says his teammates began spreading rumors that he was gay — he is married now and has a child — and that the resulting stigma led him to wait to take showers until after his teammates had left.
He otherwise describes a locker room that looked askance at him because he dared to be a little bit different by doing things like wearing his hair in a brightly dyed mohawk. According to his brother, Stacy, who also played for the Eagles for a short period, the brothers were ostracized, in part, for wearing Vans shoes.
He only directly discusses one person: McNabb, a player generally described as affable if a bit aloof in most media accounts.
Andrews is careful to say that he wouldn’t describe McNabb’s treatment as bullying, and provides an anecdote that seems to represent what many would consider an annoying workplace interaction:
“I could be sitting in the players’ lounge with a group, having some laughs, and [McNabb would] get his say in so the attention can shift. He was the type of person that had everything in the world he could want, but that still wasn’t enough. He wanted the attention on him. There was a whole lot of that behavior. He wasn’t just that way with me. I’m thinking, ‘Every day I strap on my shoulder pads and helmet, I’m here to protect you.’”
Not cool, Donovan. But also nothing beyond what most people deal with in any variety of social situations on a daily basis. There are a lot of people like that.
He also pins McNabb as the source of rumors.
“[McNabb] was a big part of it — he was a big part of my issues there. Bully is a strong word, but he was degrading to me and spread rumors. It’s bothered me that I haven’t really spoken about it.”
McNabb rolled his eyes when Andrews addressed the full team and discussed his absence due to depression, according to the Sync story.
Now that Andrews has spoken about it — and Martin has taken his own path, leaving the Dolphins and sparking an investigation — you wonder how many other disgruntled players will decide to discuss the working conditions inside NFL locker rooms.
Part of this is an old story: Sports teams aren’t the clean, happy bunch of Good Men they’re often made out to be — and very often include dirty, angry men of questionable character.
Andrews learned this early on:
“There were so many people that were Christian and going to church and saying, ‘Rookie, be seen and not heard,’ and then I see them in the back of the club doing some not-so-cool things being married. Everything under the sun — trying to tell you how to act. One guy out of the two who I thought I would fully respect during my time in Philadelphia, one of them let me down big time. Every time you see him, he’d have a Bible in his hand, and be coming from Bible study, but I know so many things about him that so many people would not be happy about.”
Andrews, who retired after one happy season with the Giants and friendly QB Eli Manning, is living in Arkansas and spending time with family. He hopes to become a stand-up comic.