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An NFL player is found face down in a ditch, drunk and passed out. Police arrest him for public intoxication and take him to jail to sleep it off. You might expect the story that follows to be a cynical tale of an athlete who threw away his career over alcohol. Instead, it's a sad story, but one that actually comes away with an encouraging message.
The player is Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle John Gill. After he was released from jail with the charges dropped in Indianapolis, the team rallied around him. Team president, Bill Polian, announced that Gill will be kept on the team as an "injured reserve" and sent to treatment.
...he's got a problem unfortunately that many Americans are familiar with either in their family or in the workplace ... The No. 1 priority for him is to get treatment and we're in that process right now ... Football is not a priority. It's not even a consideration," Polian said.
The fact that the team would hang onto Gill is a positive sign that teams are coming around on the idea of helping players through all sorts of injuries beyond the physical. Teams have long accepted the idea that when a player injures his knee they need to be patient and let it heal. But it is a much more recent phenomena that in the tough guy world of football that a team will work through psychological issues such as addiction.
Kudos to the Colts for standing up for their employee and putting his long term wellness ahead of other considerations. Hopefully John Gill is able to put the opportunity to good use and turn things around.
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