Percy Harvin was once a first-round pick, pro bowler, and even a Super Bowl champ. Early in his career, he looked like he might be one of the NFL’s next superstar. His athleticism and speed meant Harvin could play different positions and do a little bit of everything. But just as fast as his career started it, all came crashing down. In 2016, he was forced to walk away from the NFL and is now opening up about his struggles.

Anxiety forced him away

Since he was seven-years-old Harvin has dealt with vicious migraines. Shortly after being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings, Harvin was diagnosed with a serve anxiety disorder that was linked to his migraines. Throughout his entire football career, Harvin had violent and emotional outbursts that often got him suspended.

Harvin once described his migraines as, “take a hammer and beat it on the side of your head nonstop.”

Due to his health issues, Harvin ended up missing a large number of games and only ended up playing one full season in his seven-year career. The anxiety and pain caused Harvin to play many games with nearly no sleep.

“This whole journey has been surprising. A lot of the stuff I struggled with, it just don’t affect me no more,” Harvin said about his NFL journey.

Gets away from the game

Harvin’s NFL career ended with him bouncing between a few different teams and not getting much playing time. After walking away, he admitted to missing football, a game he had played since the age of six. However, last year was the first year he hadn’t missed being on a team.

Now Harvin is back in Gainesville, Florida raising his son and mentoring Florida players. Dan Mullen, Florida’s current head coach and the man who recruited Harvin to play for the Gators, says that Harvin has enjoyed his time as a mentor.

“He’s young enough that our players have seen him play; they’ve seen his success in the NFL,” Mullen said. “It’s a valuable voice. I mean, they wanna be him.”

Harvin’s career may have ended in tragedy, but now he’s giving back and helping players understand mental health.

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