There are times when it seems like the United States as a country is progressing when it comes to conversations around mental health. There are days when it seems like it has become more acceptable to talk about the challenges we face due to mental health disorders, especially when it comes to people of privilege like celebrities and athletes.
Guys like DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love have elevated the conversation around anxiety, mental health, and other issues that affect athletes' performance on the field. This has, in most cases, lead to folks being more empathetic and understanding of the mental health struggles of athletes. Then there are days like today or situations like today when it seems like we are still stuck in the Stone Age.
As you all know, Chandler Jones has been away from the team for some time, and there have been no official reports confirming exactly why. The press has been asking Josh McDaniels for some sort of confirmation but he has been vague and we have not heard from Mark Davis or Dave Ziegler either. However, if anyone is familiar with mental health disorders, then it appears that Jones is having a manic episode for the world to see.
Raiders Chandler Jones needs support, not mockery
The typical signs are all there.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, they describe "mania" or manic episodes as "a state of mind characterized by high energy, excitement, and euphoria over a sustained period of time. It's an extreme change in mood and cognition that can interfere with school, work, or home life". They continue and say that "mania can also lead to extreme agitation or irritability" which we have seen from Jones as well.
I'm not claiming to diagnose Chandler Jones, but his ranting about head coach Josh McDaniels, Aaron Hernandez, Mark Davis, and more are the typical signs of the delusions of grandeur that are associated with manic episodes. The emotional roller coaster witnessed on his Instagram live is another telltale sign, as is the unpredictability and instability that we are seeing on his social media.
The only difference between Chandler Jones and most folks who are dealing with an issue like this is that he happens to have hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, and the eyes of the sports world are on him at this time. One would expect that the general reaction would be one of sympathy and concern, but a scroll through the replies to Jones' tweets reveals insults and mockery and many from his own team's fans.
Many fans are treating his words as if he is in the right state of mind and are accusing him of things like defamation and slander against Josh McDaniels and Mark Davis. Others are insulting him by calling him crazy and all sorts of other awful things in his replies despite the insistence by many others that he is in a crisis.
This is a time where Raider Nation and the sports world can show that we have made progress when it comes to issues like this. Rather than mock and criticize Jones, we should rally around him. The mental health crisis in this country is a very real thing, and Jones is a prominent example that wealth, status, and fame don't protect you from these things.
What's happening to Jones could happen to any of us or our loved ones, and it's at this time more than ever that we need to show that we are bigger than sports.
Our concern for him should not be whether he can suit up on Sunday and tackle the opposing quarterback; rather, it should be if he can wake up one day and once again lead a normal life. It may not be as dramatic as "in sickness and health," but the statement of "once a Raider, always a Raider" applies now more than ever, and Chandler Jones needs us all to remember that.