Jalen Reagor was a record-breaker for TCU Football, establishing himself as a triple threat on offense and special teams in his three years in Fort Worth.
His collegiate efforts made him a first round draft pick, and while injuries and unsteady quarterback play have limited his opportunities to be impactful on the field in his first season as an NFL WR, that has stopped him from having an impact off it it.
This coming weekend, the NFL will host their annual #MyCauseMyCleats event, where players across the league are able to bring attention to a cause that is important to them through their cleats.
Reagor will be participating, as well, bringing awareness to Black Men Heal, an organization that provides free mental health services to Black men.
.@jalenreagor is bringing awareness to @blackmenheal, a local organization that provides free mental health services for Black men and aims to remove the stigma associated with seeking treatment.#MyCauseMyCleats pic.twitter.com/JVYxcmx4yM— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) December 3, 2020
Mental health, especially men’s mental health, is something that Reagor has spoken of often in his career, going back to his undergrad years. At Big 12 Media Days in 2019, Reagor said “I feel like mental wellness is a big thing to me. There’s certain things that we [athletes] have built up that we can’t say because of our platform. Most people don’t understand that we are people outside of just being football players. People are so caught up on what we do on the field, they don’t understand that we have life problems, we have stuff that bothers us, just like the normal person that doesn’t play sports.”
Reagor was active in community service during his time at TCU, giving back to the Fort Worth community and his hometown of Waxahachie, TX. Earlier that summer, he had spent time with adults with intellectual disabilities. He tweeted the following after. “This is what it’s all about, giving back. I got the chance to interact and spend time with people who suffer from intellectual disabilities. Today opened my eyes to not only think about yourself and what you can do but also think about those who can’t and wish that they could.”
Reagor has always had a platform; the son of former NFL defensive player Montae Reagor, Jalen, a highly-touted recruit himself, got used to the bright lights and big expectations early. “My hometown, Waxahachie - I’m known,” he said. “It’s bigger than just me.”
It’s important that he used that platform then, and it’s becoming more important now. “I can take time - a few minutes, a couple hours - just to go put smiles on people’s faces. It’s not about just ‘football, football, football’ and being locked in, there’s other things in the world. And football can be here today, gone today. My thing is, I want to have an impact on people’s life. So when I leave, they’re like ‘his presence was felt’, then I’ve done my job.”
Back in 2019, he recognized the stigma surrounding speaking up about mental health issues and sharing personal struggles. “It’s still frowned upon [to speak about mental health issues]. People will ask you to speak about it and then they’ll bash you. The same person that interviews you, that asks you the questions, will bash you about what you said - even though it’s positive.” He had personally experienced the aggressive “fans” who slide into an athlete’s DMs post game to complain, something that is continuing in Philly, where the notoriously difficult folks that follow the Eagles have compared him to players drafted behind him as his stats have been hindered so far this year. His words from 2019 seem almost like a premonition. “People will say that they understand, but they don’t because they’re not in those shoes. They don’t know what it’s like to lose a game and then go check your instagram DMs or your Twitter DMs - no one knows what that’s like. People just assume that it’s okay, but that’s not right.”
Now, he is using an even larger platform as a professional athlete to further share his heart for those that struggle with mental illness, and the many young people who still don’t feel like it’s okay to talk about.
Mental health is important no matter who you are, where you come from or what you do for a living. Encouraged to see NFL athletes helping to spread awareness @jalenreagor #SSGFam https://t.co/fczJJaUImE— Jasmine Windham (@JazzyWindham) December 3, 2020
You can support Black Men Heal and other causes across the NFL by bidding on the cleats after game day at www.NFLauction.nfl.com