Stetson Bennett's Return to Professional Football: Embracing Mental Health in Sports
Stetson Bennett's return to professional football is marked by more than just a renewed determination to compete; it embodies the growing acknowledgment of mental health's role in an athlete's performance and well-being. After stepping away from the gridiron for a year to prioritize his mental wellness, Bennett's anticipated comeback with the Los Angeles Rams in the 2023 season is stirring discussions on the significance of mental health in sports.

Unexpected Hiatus

Initially poised to serve as the backup quarterback for the Rams, Bennett did not see any playtime during the 2023 season. This hiatus was not due to physical injuries or performance issues but was a conscious decision aimed at addressing his mental health needs. His break from the rigors of professional football underscores a critical aspect often overlooked in highly competitive sports environments—the athlete's mental health. The Rams' leadership, including head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead, supported Bennett's decision, underlining a progressive stance on player welfare within the organization. This move not only demonstrates the Rams' commitment to their players' overall well-being but also sets a commendable precedent for how sports franchises can approach mental health challenges.

Burnout and Bounce Back

Snead pointed to burnout as a potential hindrance for Bennett, following his stellar collegiate career. The intense pressures and demands of professional sports can indeed lead to burnout, a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a reduced sense of achievement and loss of personal identity. Recognizing burnout and addressing it head-on as Bennett has done is vital for the longevity and health of any athlete's career. Now, with renewed vigor, Bennett has re-joined the Rams for their offseason workouts, showing signs of a positive mental shift. His return might be timelier than expected, given Jimmy Garoppolo's suspension, which potentially opens up more playing opportunities for him. This unexpected turn of events highlights the unpredictable nature of professional sports and underscores the importance of maintaining both physical and mental readiness.

The Importance of Mental Health in Sports

Bennett's journey shines a spotlight on the critical issue of mental health in the sports world. His willingness to step away from the game, focus on his mental wellness, and then re-engage with professional football with a stronger mental outlook is a compelling narrative that emphasizes the need for mental health resources and support within the sports industry. The backing Bennett received from the Rams' management, including commendations from McVay for his "renewed energy and focus," exemplifies a shift in how sports organizations are addressing mental health. It showcases an understanding that optimal performance is not solely contingent on physical condition but is also significantly influenced by an athlete's mental state.

Resilience Through Challenges

Bennett's time away from the field, dedicated to mental health recovery, illustrates the broader implications of such breaks for personal development. Experiences of facing and overcoming mental health challenges can foster resilience, passion, and a deeper appreciation for one's profession. For an athlete like Bennett, this period of reflection and recovery might have instilled a more robust sense of purpose and motivation for his return to football. Sean McVay's remarks on the "complexity of Bennett’s situation" and emphasizing the priority of his "health and well-being over the game" echo a pivotal message: in the high-stakes world of professional sports, the health of an athlete cannot be secondary. The renewed energy and focus that Bennett brings back to the game can serve as an inspiration to others facing similar challenges, demonstrating that addressing mental health issues is not just crucial for personal wellbeing but can also enhance professional achievements.


Stetson Bennett's comeback story is not just about returning to football; it's about overcoming the challenges that come with burnout and mental health struggles. It signifies a landmark moment for sports culture, where the welfare of the athlete receives the attention it duly deserves. His journey from taking a necessary hiatus to making a promising return highlights the importance of mental health awareness in professional sports. By supporting Bennett through his challenges, the Rams have exemplified how teams and organizations can and should prioritize their athletes' overall health, setting a commendable standard for sports franchises everywhere.