On August 19, 2015, former NFL quarterback (who holds the Chicago Bears’ single-season record for passing yards (3,838) and touchdown passes (29)) checked-in to a hotel in Calabasas, California, sent a few text messages to some friends, and fired a gun shot up through this chin and out his brain.
The previous years had not been kind to the former quarterback. On October 30, 2011, his 18-year-old son Griffen died of a heroin overdose; his mother died; his father became terminally ill, and he went through a divorce. All of which added to the depression Kramer had fought for years prior.
On August 19, 2015, Kramer shot himself, hoping to live up to the suicide note he had written. But, on August 19, 2015, Kramer was given a second chance to continue – as somehow, someway, Kramer literally dodged the bullet, surviving the attempt and winning the surgery and rehab fights to recuperate. Now, he has a solid bill of health (watch the video).
I was a fan of Erik Kramer. I have his jersey (still). I have his autograph. I am sure I even thought I might be the next coming of Erik Kramer (I was not--I played nine minutes of high school football and was a fat kid, not a quarterback). Very easily, the thought of Erik Kramer being near-perfect existed for me.
News and research about CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) obviously has changed the perception, turning once-giants into “damaged goods.” But Kramer said he didn’t experience those symptoms (yet). He simply battled depression--even when he was playing. Despite many kids, like me, wanting to be like him someday, he didn’t appreciate what he had--the top, the fame, the success and the opportunity.
Kramer, as you can see from the video and read about in this great article on Bleacher Report by Dan Pompei, clearly has another chance at life. Life won’t be easy. He will continue to battle, like the rest of us. But this time, he says he sees the opportunity of life. He has been given a second chance.
For the rest of us, why wait for it? Why not make sure that anything is truly possible? Why wait one more day to live life the way we want?
I believe there is an important moment that can happen for all of us--that moment where we stop looking at life as half empty and start owning the half full. All of us will go through trauma, but there is real truth (as you can see in a moment like Kramer’s) in the saying what doesn’t kill us can only make us stronger. Can is the operative word--as “can” is our choice as to what we do with it.
Kramer’s attempted suicide is public because he is public. Many others have probably gone through a similar moment, where life just wasn’t what you signed up for. But, that moment can change at any point. You are in charge. You decide when the cup becomes half full.