One tough and inspired former National Football League Quarterback is embracing social media and hoping that the mistakes he has made will create awareness and prevent others from having the same problems.
Ray Lucas, 38-years old, recently disclosed his addiction to painkillers and has entered a rehabilitation center in Florida. Lucas took quite a beating during his seven year NFL career, one that saw him play for three AFC East teams: the New England Patriots, New York Jets, and Miami Dolphins. He was never a shy player on the field or off, and currently works on TV as a football analyst.
While checking into rehab, though, Lucas also logged on to Facebook.
The Ray Lucas NFL Offical PAST Page is up and running, with Lucas making occasionally comments and a myriad of fans joining in with support and praise. P.A.S.T stands for Pain Alternatives Solutions Treatment, which is a group of New Jersey-based doctors who provide pro bono care to former NFL players. It is not uncommon for former athletes to become addicted to medication, and according to an ESPN study cited on their website, “retired NFL players misuse painkillers at a rate of 4-to-1 compared to the general public.”
Lucas is one of those players, but he is not hiding in the dark. On February 7th, 2011 he wrote:
“The end of day 2 detox. The symptoms of detox are taking hold ,I am in a lot of pain & everything hurts.This gets me scared. This place is amazing, having another player, Randy Grimes, who has been through it by my side is a difference maker. Today in a session for the first time in my life I was dealing with the emoti…onal impact of my departure from the NFL .This is the start of the fight & I AM WILLING TO FIGHT!”
The Ray Lucas page has actually been in existence since last September, when Lucas had neck surgery. There are photos of Lucas at the hospital, as well as links and information about P.A.S.T. Back then he offered updates as well, but now more than ever he is opening up.
Just a day ago he posted another update with frankness about his past but focused optimism concerning the future:
“My body hurts all over as they work to unwind the years of pain killer use dating back to my playing days & then medicating my signifigant injuries in my retire…ment. I am feeling lot’s of anxiety. It has been a few tough days but I will get myself back”
There has been an outpouring of support and love for Lucas on the page, with what seems like hourly updates from friends and fans. Even with the impersonality that comes all too often with discussion and causes on Facebook, Lucas’ post are powerful in their simplicity and sincerity. Both the physical pain and mental struggle that he is going through is conveyed in the posts and few photos. The individual experience, however, is representative of a greater battle that so many players go through, albeit often alone or in private, The page, created by Lucas, his wife Cecy, and the P.A.S.T Medical Group, should go a long way to helping others in their fight.