The Underdog Jets Podcast, Wayne Chrebet
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In the latest episode of The Underdog Jets Podcast, Wayne Chrebet details his dealings with depression following his 2006 retirement.

Wayne Chrebet went beyond the glory in the latest episode of The Underdog Jets Podcast, released on Monday, by detailing the final stages of his career with co-host and Jets X-Factor co-founder and editor Robby Sabo.

Chrebet’s NFL career unofficially ended in November 2005, when he sustained a concussion during the final stages of a game against San Diego. Appropriately, the final reception of Chrebet’s career was a third-down conversion, as a six-yard reception from Brooks Bollinger kept an ultimately futile game-winning drive going.

Alas, Chrebet was taken down on a clean hit by Chargers defender Jerry Wilson and did not play for the remainder of the 2005 season. (Remember, Jerry Wilson was the same cornerback Chrebet repeatedly torched during the Monday Night Miracle in 2000.)

No. 80 would announce his retirement just over a half-year later in June 2006.

Talking about his post-retirement struggles on the podcast was Chrebet’s decision, as he was inspired by the sports world’s ongoing conversations concerning mental health and depression. For example, tennis star Naomi Osaka recently pulled out of the French Open tournament amidst an extended break from the sport, citing mental health concerns.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on right now, in the (NFL), and in the sports world, dealing with depression, mental illness, and stuff like that,” Chrebet said. “I just want people to understand what athletes can go through.”

Chrebet’s depression was exacerbated by the fact his career ended so suddenly. While he admits that his 11th NFL season was “a bonus” after entering the league as an undrafted free agent out of Hofstra (and 11 documented concussions at the professional level), he didn’t anticipate that fateful tilt against the Chargers being the last time he put on a New York uniform.

“I got knocked out when my head hit the ground,” Chrebet said when recalling the play. “It was like if you spark two rocks together. I saw a white, I couldn’t see anything. But I could hear Laveranues (Coles). I could hear the trainer, and next thing I know, I’m in the car.”

Chrebet said that the team doctors “retired” him “before (he) even left the stadium),” as they claimed he was at massive risk of brain damage if he returned to the field.

The immediate aftermath took its toll on Chrebet, who did not return to the team facility after being handed the retirement news along with the concussion-induced headaches and pain. He never even returned to empty out his locker, as the team shipped his belongings to him at the end of the year.

“I stayed in my basement, would never come out,” he said. “I had a young kid, babies crying, I couldn’t deal with that, couldn’t deal with light. A depression set in. It took me probably a year to really get back to feeling normal and not having, like, that underwater feeling.”

The receiver credited his wife Amy for helping him get through the immediate aftermath of his forced retirement.

“At just some point, I was like, this is time, this is time to get out of the basement, to start living my life again. My wife felt the same way. It just got to a point where she was amazing, you know? She’s just like, ‘you’ve got to get on with your life.’ I was like, all right, I’m ready.

“You can’t replace that feeling, that euphoria of playing and scoring touchdowns in front of millions of people and all that stuff. There’s nothing you know, except the birth of your child, and your wedding. There’s nothing else that can compare to that.”

For more on the Underdog Jets podcast, click here.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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