“We both never believe we’ll do anything as important ever again,” says Ryan Leaf, a former NFL player who has been involved with MVP for more than a year.
Initially a promising draft pick, Leaf’s career in the NFL ended when he was 28, leading to him becoming addicted to painkillers and eventually being imprisoned for burglary.
When Nate Boyer’s brief tenure with the Seattle Seahawks ended prior to the 2015 season, he ended up moving in with Jay Glazer, the FOX Sports NFL insider who was also a close friend of Boyer’s having helped train the former Army Green Beret-turned-NFL-hopeful at Glazer’s Unbreakable Performance Center.
Every session kicks off with 45 minutes of fast-paced, low-impact workouts.“There’s a lot of circuit training, plus some sort of combat sport – boxing, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu,” Glazer says. Working out was the thing that helped the most in terms of bonding, because it releases endorphins and we’re sweating together.” But even though those involved with MVP are among the fittest people on the planet, the workout is ultimately secondary to the camaraderie between two seemingly disparate groups of men and women who are struggling to just find a team to play on again."MVP has become the family outside my family that I haven’t had in over a decade," says Holcomb.The news hit close to home for Holcomb, who's struggled with depression on and off since he returned from Iraq in 2005.“It really beat me up that someone had gone through the same place and couldn’t pull out of it,” Holcomb says.His friend's wife said he felt depressed, aimless, and embarrassed to leave the house.
Glazer realized that his experience was not dissimilar to that of other veterans he and Boyer had known.
Studies show that former NFL players are at higher suicide risk, a finding that some propose may be linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, which is caused by repeated head trauma. Glazer refers to the fireside chats at MVP as a form of “peer-on-peer counseling.” “You feel you’re not being put under the microscope of therapy,” he says.
(It's important to note that while MVP does not employ a counselor or offer traditional forms of therapy, Los Angeles program coordinator AJ Perez said people seeking help will often ask others in the program for recommendations for therapists.) While the link between military veterans and multimillionaire professional athletes might not seem immediately apparent, there are parallels between the two groups in terms of grappling with the post-army/post-NFL transition period.
The goal is to challenge those in the program while simultaneously making it easier for those with injuries to keep up with the workouts.“Wen you work out, it gets you in a vulnerable state,” says Glazer.
Jay Glazer just sounded off on Terrell Owens' decision to not have his Hall of Fame ceremony in Canton ... "It's not just about you, whatever your issues are, it's about everybody else around you!
“All of a sudden you’re alone, and you feel different,” he said of both post-NFL and post-military life.