Switzer: 'I was in a bad place mentally'

You hear it from NFL players time and time again. Sometimes it’s when they are traded, or cut, or not re-signed.

It’s the standard line you come to expect.

They understand things happening because football ‘is a business.’

But it’s more. Yes, football is a business. But for those who play the game, it’s a passion. It’s been a part of their life since they were kids. It’s something that brings them happiness, brings them joy.

And when it’s disrupted because the sport ‘is a business,’ it can hurt like you can’t imagine.

Just ask Ryan Switzer.

Switzer was traded not just once, but twice in a five month span, landing with the Steelers before the start of the 2018 season from the Raiders, who happened to acquire him from the Cowboys just months earlier.

Looking back at it, it was tougher than he could have ever imagined. It was the low point of his career and something that brought him pain he never expected.

“I am not going to downplay it,” said Switzer. “It was extremely hard. I was in a pretty bad place when I showed up to Pittsburgh. Being traded twice in five months. Not sure what was going on. Not knowing why it wasn’t working out. When the stuff started happening in Oakland, the last two weeks of training camp the coaches stopped talking to me. They weren’t giving me any reps in the preseason. I couldn’t understand what was going on. I came to find out I was on the trading block for a while.

“Moving out of a house, to the West Coast, back to the East Coast. I lost a lot of money moving. It was a mess. I was newly married. There were a lot of factors that went into why I was feeling how I was. When I got here I didn’t expect too much. My mind hadn’t settled down. I was processing everything that was going on. That was the state I was in. I was in a really bad place mentally.”

That was until he spent a few days in the Steelers locker room. That honestly changed everything.

“It was no question the lowest I have ever been in my football career,” said Switzer. “The lowest without a doubt. Just to go from the lowest I have ever felt to potentially the highest, being integrated into this team, such a strong group of guys. It went from the lowest to the highest. That is a credit to Coach (Mike) Tomlin, the veterans in the locker room, the organization. Everyone who welcomed me and made me feel like I was at home.

“To have a Hall of Fame quarterback work with me, reach out to me. It would have been so easy for him to say this guy got here seven days before the first game. I don’t trust him, I don’t want to work with him. But he didn’t do that.”

Instead Ben Roethlisberger possibly helped save Switzer’s career. Roethlisberger welcomed Switzer in a way he never could have imagined, taking him from a dark time when he thought it was time to hang up the cleats, to the best time he had in his young NFL career.

“Ben and I talked after the season,” said Switzer. “I wanted to express my thanks to him. When I got here I remember telling my wife, my agent, I am going to see how this first couple of days go. I was so low mentally I was ready to retire. The game at that point wasn’t worth the mental stress it was putting on me and my life. He helped me so much.

“Looking back it’s crazy because football means so much to me. I love this game. It’s a top five priority in my life. To think that I felt that way and I was just a day or two away from giving up on everything I ever worked for. It’s kind of surreal looking back at it that I was that close to being done with it.

“I can’t even tell you the gratitude I have for the situation looking back at it. I wouldn’t be mentally where I am right now if I was in Dallas, if I hadn’t gone through the trades, if I hadn’t gone through the moves and everything I went through. I am going into my third year but I feel like I have played nine, just because of the things that I have learned and the stuff I have been through. I am grateful for that. It can’t do anything but propel me from here on out.

“It just took a different environment, a different set of people to bring that it out of me. I feel like when you believe in me, when you put your trust in me, I would run through a brick wall for you.”

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