Florida football great Percy Harvin: ‘Not a [NFL] game I played in that I wasn’t high’

By Michael Phillips
October 4, 2019
Florida football great Percy Harvin: ‘Not a [NFL] game I played in that I wasn’t high’
Football

Image Credit: UAA

Percy Harvin’s NFL career did not go as expected. Following a stellar rookie season in 2009 for the Minnesota Vikings that saw the standout Florida Gators playmaker haul in 75 touches for 925 total yards and six touchdowns en route to NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, Harvin could seemingly never stay healthy enough throughout his eight-year career. 

Harvin battled migraines throughout his time in the league, a known medical issue that bothered him throughout his time at Florida. Unfortunately, they never went away and Harvin began missing significant time because of it. He visited medical specialists and even once collapsed while on the sideline at a Seattle Seahawks practice.

After playing in 45 games over his first three seasons, Harvin only saw action in nine in 2012 and just one — Super Bowl XLVIII — the following season. Of course, in typical Harvin fashion, he showed out in the Super Bowl, catching a pass for 17 yards and returning the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown. He did come back to play in 13 games in the 2014 season but only managed to see action in 20 over the final four years of his career.

It was thought that his migraines — and various injuries suffered throughout his career — proved to be too much to allow Harvin to continue playing the game, but after Harvin was featured in a Sports Illustrated story last year about his health and return to Gainesville, Florida, he revealed that anxiety was actually the primary cause of his problems.

What Havin has now made clear, through an interview with Bleacher Report’s Untold Stories, is that his anxiety grew worse when he was traded to the Seahawks.

“Oh, man. If I could put it to you as laymen’s as I could, those was probably the worst years of my life,” Harvin said. “Just because it came with so much. My anxiety is at its worst when I go into unfamiliar situations.”

“When I was diagnosed, I still didn’t acknowledge it,” Harvin continued. “But when I started noticing it is when I started speaking or going into different environments. Particularly, the press conference with the Seahawks. My shirt was sweating. They had to bring me water a couple times during my press conference.”

It was a struggle for his entire career, but the worst moment came between Harvin and teammate Golden Tate as they were preparing for the biggest game of the season. 

“Thinking about it now, man, I can’t even believe I did it,” Harvin said. “So, we’re down at the Super Bowl, of course. … And Golden did an interview, and I had just sat out the previous game with a concussion. So, the question is, ‘How do you feel, you know, getting Percy Harvin back and getting some of y’all power back?’ You know, getting ready to play this tough Denver Broncos team. And the response was, ‘We made it here without him, so whether he play or don’t play, we gonna be good.’

“Fast forward to we’re in the meeting room, and I kinda asked him about it. Like, ‘Yo, bro, what’s going on? You ain’t happy for me? Like, this had been going on all season.’ I was so already wrapped up it didn’t even probably matter what his answer was. … Lets just say we got, we locked up. The owners had to come in the locker room. And the fact though — the hitting him into the trash can and all that type of stuff — it was true. Like I said, man, it was just bad. That whole situation we keep harping on, that’s what made it bad because it was team pictures that day, and you can see tense in the picture. You don’t see a team ready to play the Super Bowl.”

Tate and Harvin, helped by Marshawn Lynch, resolved their differences and let things go just prior to the beginning the Super Bowl, a game in which the Seahawks dominated the Broncos 43-8. 

Looking back on it, Harvin admitted he couldn’t believe that the incident happened, but that it was a by-product of his struggles with anxiety. And while he did all he could to seek help, nothing seemed to take the stress away. 

“Now you’re looking at a guy that — I was at the Mayo Clinic, and I had at least seven prescriptions that I was to take, from Zoloft and all the other ones I was taking, and the only thing that really seemed to work is when I would smoke marijuana.”

“There’s not a game I played in that I wasn’t high.”

Harvin was honest about his marijuana use and was adamant that smoking marijuana did nothing but help him cope with his anxiety and pain from playing football. Other former players such as Calvin Johnson, Chris Long and Rob Gronkowski have also spoken up about their use of marijuana and the benefits from using it. 

“And that’s what I want the world to kinda see today is it’s not a stigma and people doing it and getting in a whole bunch of trouble,” Harvin said. “It’s people that’s just living regular life that just got deficiencies or just maybe wanna enjoy themselves. It’s a natural way to do so.”

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