Hayden Hurst: A Second Chance

By: Sam Donsig


Hayden Hurst, who plays tight end for the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL, recently opened up about his struggles with mental health. With the combined effort of the Atlanta Falcons social media team and the Hurst family, a series of videos were released on series about Hayden's struggles leading up to now, his third year in the league.


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It was challenging to listen to the pain Hurst himself, and his family went through. Hurst’s journey to the NFL was far different from others. Mental health is not something that should be joked about or criticized in any way, shape, or form, as someone who has had experience with a very close family member who suffers from depression and alcohol abuse. It’s something that is not to be taken lightly. For Hayden Hurst to speak out and tell his story to the world is a brave thing to do and takes a lot of courage.


After watching the video put out by the Falcons, one thing I thought was important to focus on was the amazing support system that Hurst around himself. His coach at the University of South Carolina Will Muschamp was one of the many people along with his parents and sister Kylie who truly cared for Hayden no matter the case. After Hurst had attempted to take his own life, he was admitted to the hospital for multiple days. During which Muschamp called four days in a row demanding the nurses that he needed to talk to Hurst.

This moment between player and coach is one example that explains the importance of a strong support system and how it can be a difference in someone’s life. If Hurst wasn’t close with his coach or distant from his family things could have been a lot worse. I have a ton of respect for Muschamp to care that much about one player of his by calling the hospital every day wanting to talk to Hurst. Without support systems, people’s lives would be far more different than they are currently. The world needs people like coach Muschamp who will walk the extra mile to help those struggling and in need of someone to talk to.


Dak Prescott who earlier this year came out and stated that he had struggled with depression after losing his brother Jace Prescott to suicide, was met with praise by Hurst, who commended Prescott for having the courage to come out and talk about it. The Falcons chose Hurst as the mic’d up during the week two tilt, and it created this wholesome moment between Prescott and Hurst.


The clip ended up going viral and retweeted over 10,000 times, garnering over 47,000 likes. It’s moments like these between players exhibits that football is more than just a game. It’s important to talk about mental health, breaking the stigma and creating a healthy space to discuss the subject. As many have said in the past, one day someone might be in your life, and the next moment there not.


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Mental health is something that we all can suffer from in different ways, some people it takes major effects on their lives, others it’s much smaller. Regardless, it’s important to realize that not everyone is smiling and always has the motivation of simple things in life like getting out of bed in the morning and getting dressed.


During this year’s my cause my cleats campaign in the NFL which was during week 13, Hayden Hurst had custom cleats with the names of Dak Prescott’s foundation along with Solomon Thomas’ foundation. A move that shows the power of conversation between two players leading to something positive.


https://www.atlantafalcons.com/photos/first-look-at-cleats-to-be-worn-for-my-cause-my-cleats

Hayden Hurst has been quite vocal about the subject of mental health throughout his short career and has started a foundation with his family called the Hayden Hurst Family Foundation, that he and his family started in 2018 to help focus on mental health awareness and suicide prevention. The foundation is mostly run by Hurst’s parents, Jerry and Kathy while Hayden is busy travelling with the Falcons during the season.


One last thing that I will leave you all with is a quote from Hurst’s sister Kylie, “don’t make permanent decisions on temporary feelings”. Seven powerful words that can speak volumes to many people around the world. You are not alone, you always will have people in your corner even when you think you don’t.