I had a lengthy phone discussion today with an NFL defensive lineman, Quinn Pitcock. At first glance, the two of us could not be more different. But, striking similarities emerged in the first few minutes of conversation.
Like me, Quinn has struggled with depression and anxiety and views his video gaming behavior as an attempt to escape and avoid. He told me about the time warp that gaming puts him in, causing disruptions in his sleep. “I would get up at 3pm,” he told me, “and basically play until 7, or maybe even eleven the next morning. This would go on for days, and then I would crash for 18 hours at a time.”
Quinn seemed most troubled by the distance his video game behavior put between him and his friends and family. “I moved to Indy by myself and had more free time,” he said. “I started declining offers to go out to eat out or to movies. My gaming became the most important thing in my life.”
Quinn recalls always being drawn to electronics, even if it was just playing computer Solitaire while he talked on the phone with friends. But the Xbox Live was the Siren that drew him in to addiction. So often I have seen cyber-oriented people lead relatively stable lives until they discover the perfect cyber storm. For me, it was Age of Empires and other such Real-Time Strategy Games that snatched thousands of hours from my life.
Just like I had shown great promise with my 4.2 grade point average, Quinn was a superstar high school football player who went on to become an All-American defensive lineman at Ohio State. Drafted by the Indianapolis Colts, he had a promising rookie year in 2007. But something was brewing deep inside Quinn that he did not fully understand. While driving to the Colts training camp in 2008, he abruptly stopped his car, turned around, and retired from football. “There was just a lot of stuff going on inside me that I did not fully understand,” Quinn said. “I used video gaming as a definite escape from reality.”
Something shifted, however. “Some voice inside of me just said enough is enough,” he said. “I decided to get treatment.” He threw out his Xbox and has been getting the help he needs. He tried out for the Seattle Seahawks but was cut from the team a week ago. I can tell you that I sensed a seriousness in him and think he has a great shot at returning to professional football. He also wants to get the word out about the dangers of the cyber world. That was the driving force in his agreeing to talk to me. We haven’t heard the last from Quinn Pitcock. He is a man with great gifts and passion and I believe he has a great future ahead of him now that he has gotten this problem under control. I will be following his successes and keeping readers in the loop.
- Catch Kevin’s book signing at Border’s in Birmingham, MI on October 29, 7PM.