Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers lended his support to U.S. gymnast Simone Biles on Friday, three days after she took home a bronze medal for finishing third in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics’ women’s balance beam final. The reigning NFL MVP’s praise of Biles extended beyond her work on the mat.
In an interview with The Ringer, Rodgers credited Biles’ ability to speak freely about her mental health and advocate the same for others.
“I give Simone so much credit for her ability to speak the truth, her truth, and to answer tough questions, and to have the courage to say, ‘I’m scared’ and ‘I don’t feel like I should be out there,'” Rodgers said. “She’s the greatest gymnast of all time. And mental health [awareness] is an issue that is continuing to break down the stigmas that don’t allow us to talk about it or only allow us to talk about it in a super negative, depressive, suicidal way.
“People of all ages and all professions are dealing with mental issues, especially during COVID… it’s something we should be talking about and ways to help people get through it, whether it’s techniques or therapy or just conversations letting people know they’re not alone. And that’s what Simone did. I’m very, very proud of her.”
Biles, who withdrew from four finals for mental health reasons, was seen supporting teammates Suni Lee, MyKala Skinner and Jade Carey throughout their respective runs that ended in winning Olympic hardware. That American group won silver in the team competition, without Biles, preceding the individual events.
Athletes, Rodgers claims, have higher platforms to deliver important messages such as mental health advocacy. Biles has spoken extensively on that very subject these Games, doing everything from explaining what the “twisties” are to outlining her personal struggles with the yips-like issue.
Talking like Biles has is a trend Rodgers, who has “gotten to know her a little bit at times over the years,” hopes continues.
“Well, we should keep talking about it,” Rodgers said. “Keep talking about ways that we individually deal with stress and deal with anxiety and deal with pressure and deal with depression or loneliness. I think that would really help. Because we, whether we like it or not, have a platform to influence people.
“And our words are often listened to more than the person who’s not in the public eye as much. So we have an opportunity — not an obligation, an opportunity — to maybe share some of our own ways of dealing with things and break some of the stigma around mental health.”