Perhaps no one shouldered more of the blame for the Tennessee Titans 19-16 playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals than quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
It could also be argued that no player felt the full weight of that loss more than Tannehill, who admitted to reporters on Tuesday that his three-interception performance had put him in a dark place.
“I’ve kind of worked through it,” Tannehill said. “It’s a scar that sticks with me, but therapy, talking to people, time, all the above [have helped]. It was tough ... not a situation you want to be in. You prepare so long and so hard to put yourself in a position to go chase your dreams. And to go out and play beneath the standard that I have for myself, it stung, it hurt.
“A lot of sleepless nights, a lot of reflecting, rewatching the game over and over in my head. It took a lot of work to get through it. It wasn’t a day, it wasn’t a week, it was weeks and weeks to get through it. At this point, I can look back at it, recognize it for what it was and learn from it and move on.”
Tannehill’s admission of personal struggle isn’t the first. Last season, former receiver A.J. Brown opened up to reporters about his own mental health battle, revealing he had dealt with depression and even thought about taking his own life.
Starting with him not speaking during locker cleanout day, then escalating after his no-showing the start of voluntary offseason workouts, coupled with the reports of him not reaching out to first-round pick Treylon Burks until two days after he was drafted, Tannehill has been consistently under fire from the Titans fanbase for much of the last few months.
However, the raw honesty Tannehill displayed on Tuesday, at least for a moment, helped humanize him and seemingly shattered the “he doesn’t care” narrative that took on a life of its own after he posted on Instagram a photo of himself fishing during the start of Tennessee’s voluntary offseason workout program.
“I’ve been doing [therapy] for a while now. But definitely I think this is the first time that I probably absolutely needed it to pull me out of a dark space,” Tannehill continued.
“…As the offseason kind of went on, and I started to get through those things, I started to get that spark back, that excitement, that energy back. Obviously, being here this week, in the building and being around the guys and on the field … being able to coach them on the field and through these reps has been really good for me and for all of us.”
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_