In a piece published Tuesday on NFL.com, former wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. chronicled his struggles with depression throughout his 16-year career in the NFL, which ended when he retired after the 2016 season.
"Despite all of my achievements, I routinely felt trapped, inferior and alone," Smith wrote. "This overwhelmed me internally and often left me mentally, physically and emotionally broken."
Smith, who now works as an analyst for NFL Network, wrote that despite making five Pro Bowls and being selected All-Pro twice, he often asked himself, "What's wrong with me?"
Smith said by his final season with the Carolina Panthers in 2013, he was so overwhelmed he didn't know how to handle his emotions and "was a cynic of everything and everyone." At that point, Smith began meeting with a counselor.
Smith says he's been receiving treatment for depression and advised others to do the same, saying "stop trying to deal with these serious matters alone."
Smith, 39, specifically mentioned a moment in 2003 after the Panthers won the NFC Championship Game. He said that he "should have been elated" that the Panthers were headed to the Super Bowl but, instead, was so "upset" at his performance in the game that he "couldn't even get myself to hold the conference trophy."
"We earned the opportunity to become world champions, but in that victory, I felt defeated," Smith said.
Smith spent 13 seasons with the Panthers before playing his final three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. He is eighth on the NFL's all-time list for receiving yards (14,731) and is 12th all-time in receptions (1,031).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.