Hayden Hurst Explains Thanking Dak Prescott After Video Surfaces

Jenna CiccotelliContributor IISeptember 23, 2020

Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst (81) gains long yardage after catching a pass in the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

After Dak Prescott engineered a dramatic 40-39 comeback for the Cowboys against the Falcons on Sunday, Atlanta tight end Hayden Hurst went to thank the Dallas quarterback. It wasn't to congratulate him for a good game but for something more personal.

He wanted to tell Prescott that he appreciated him speaking out about his experience with anxiety and depression following the death of his brother, Jace.

Hurst, who struggled with anxiety while playing in the Pittsburgh Pirates system and after joining the South Carolina football team, tried to kill himself in 2016. He and his mother started the Hayden Hurst Family Foundation, which funds programming to support mental health for children and teenagers.

In an interview with USA Today's Jori Epstein, Hurst explained why he was so grateful to the Cowboys quarterback.

"I just wanted Dak to know how much I respected him because when I told my story, I know how much you get scrutinized because of that backward thinking: 'Oh, you've got to be strong, you've got to be a leader, you can't show weakness.' But it is so courageous to come out and talk about that stuff when other people won't," the 27-year-old said.  

"I think it takes more courage to come out and talk about it than to sit and not talk about it. ... It's going to save a ton of lives."

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If you or someone you know is in immediate crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for 24/7 access to a trained counselor. You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting "HOME" to 741741. For more information about ongoing support and mental health resources, contact the HelpLine at the National Alliance on Mental Illness by calling 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or emailing info@nami.org.