“I thought, ‘Man, I’m giving my voice to a lot of things,’ being involved in football, mentoring young people, working for Special Olympics and all of that,” said Roberts, who in addition to working for Special Olympics has also been a Seahawks radio analyst before and after the match. “It felt like a place where my voice and my journey could have a big impact on ex-athletes for one, men for another, and then men of color for another layer. So I wanted to do this thing somewhere Somehow I tell my story. It’s kind of a journey because it’s not like I went (to the After the Impact program) and things are ready and everything is rosy. I wanted people to be able to go on that journey with me and then be able to so they could see what it looks like, what it sounds like, what it looks like to have resources and use resources and all those different kinds of things, just to try to you debunk some of the stuff around mental health and men and African-American men and athletes in a way that, if it helps one person, then I’m happy for it.
The biggest message, Roberts says, is for people to know, “It’s okay to not be OK. And it’s OK to let people know you’re not OK. You don’t have to shout it to everyone, but if you have a tight-knit group of friends or someone you trust or a therapist or whatever, it’s okay to let people know you’re not okay, even if you’re 6-5 and 300 pounds and you can bench press the world.”
Robert’s podcast debuted with a conversation between him, fellow Seahawks Michael Bumpus and Michael Shawn-Dugar, who covers the Seahawks for The Athletic. In the first episode, Roberts talks about growing up in an abusive household, his parents’ struggles with alcohol, and how one of his goals after going to Virginia on a football scholarship was to become strong enough to return home and fight his fathers. But he also talks about the good times he had with his parents and his father finding God and turning his life around, and the forgiveness that eventually came when his father died.
“I’ve always been an open book and just so transparent because I feel like I can take the load,” he said. “But as I became a little more intimate about my parents and my family and stuff — both of my parents passed away — I had to think about whether I was honoring them in that. And because I don’t want people to walk away and think, ‘Hey, he had the worst parents in the history of the world.’ I love my parents. There’s a lot of things that have helped me be successful, which is my personality and just my ability to connect with people and talk to them and all that kind of stuff. This was my mother inside and out. And then my dad’s work ethic – my dad worked a million different jobs to support us.
“I think if my dad could tell me, he would pat me on the back because he knows I’m trying to help other people and that the point is not to expose my parents. It’s about helping other people, he can say, “Man, this dude played in the NFL. He was a top 10 pick, he played 10 years, he was a 120-game starter in the league and all that, but man, we look alike . We’re the same in that area. And if he can handle those things, I can handle those things.’… I think I connect people and this is a way for me to continue to connect people and to continue to I help them.’
As the podcast continues with various guests, Roberts will continue to tell the story of his playing days, his post-playing career and the various mental health challenges he has faced. The hope is that by joining him on this journey, other people struggling with their own mental health issues can find the help they need.
“Just come on this journey with me,” he said. “And as I get better, and because I can try to help other people, I interview players from all different walks of life, whether it’s NFL, NBA, college, high school, whatever, and then I have a chance to talk to some mental health professionals. I think that’s my calling right now.”