When we last spoke to Keith McCants––former Alabama All-American linebacker and No. 4 overall pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1990 NFL Draft––this past March, he was doing interviews (including an April feature with the New York Times) in order to spread awareness of his pain killer addiction and post-football struggles, hoping current and future NFL stars can avoid going down a similar path as the linebacker.
Since our interview with him, the currently sober 47-year old McCants began working closely with Reawakenings Wellness Center (rehab facility) in Miramar, Florida, speaking with the residents and young athletes to help them not go down a similar path that he went down.
We got the chance to catch back up with Keith last Thursday to find out what he’s been up to over the last few months:
All-Out Blitz: You did an interview with the New York Times back in April. You’ve been doing a lot of interviews, including ours back in March, in order to share your story with others and get the word out there about the post-retirement struggles that players have been dealing with. So far, have you seen an impact from all of the media appearances/interviews you’ve been doing?
Keith McCants: “Yes, I have. But this is only the beginning of the things that are going to happen. It’s going to be a movement that’s going to shake the nation, I’m telling you. When I release my book––called The Dark Side of the NFL: Keeping it Real by Keith McCants––in January or February, it’s going to make a big impact on everything I’ve been doing.”
AOB: Can you tell us a little bit more about the book, and the process of getting it published?
McCants: “Yes I can. I have actually had to re-write it, but the end of the book is actually going to be featuring Reawakenings Wellness Center (rehab center in Florida) and how they helped me turn things around and see and do the different things I’m doing now. They have had a lot to do with it. They were so good that I decided to stick with the company and help them grow. I’ve been to 15-18 different rehab facilities in this country, and they are one of the best I’ve been to. Not only do they take pride in what they’re doing, but they also personally tend to each and every person. And when I do my motivational speaking and go out there and let people see what I’m doing, that’s one of the things I carry with me. I take what I learn from different rehab centers––especially Reawakenings––and I apply it to the life I’m living today.”
AOB: Can you tell us a little bit more about your experience at Reawakenings?
McCants: “One of the directors there (at Reawakenings) was a guy named Steve. Steve has done wonders for me. He helped me, coached me and showed me how to deal with my disease. I’m suffering from the disease of addiction, that’s what it is. And that’s what put me back on my feet. They have a lot of different things going on at at the wellness center, and they even take in pregnant women. There’s all types of therapy, acupuncture. They just have so many wonderful things that they do there, and I call it home.”
AOB: Since you’ve continued your involvement with Reawakenings, do you have any long-term goals for your involvement with the Wellness Center or in general?
McCants: “I’m actually glad you asked me that. I have talked about going back to school to get an addictions counselor license. Also I have the life experience license, but I like working with patients because I see myself in them. I want to do this country-wide, that’s my goal. I want to travel across the country telling my story and helping people suffering from the disease of addiction. And helping football players that fell short and have walked away from the game. So that’s what I want to do with it in the long-term.”
AOB: In terms of former players that are speaking out about their struggles, have you spoken with any other guys about their post-football struggles?
McCants: “Yes I have, but I won’t get into naming names. The thing is, what I’m doing isn’t to benefit Keith McCants, or anything like that. I’m doing it for the people who can’t talk about it. The people like Junior Seau, the people like Andre Waters, the people that are six feet under in their grave that can’t speak about the things they’ve gone through. They struggled from the diseases that I have spoken of. When I talk about the disease of addiction it’s deeper than just the NFL, and about getting hooked on drugs. It’s more about how to live on your own terms. Today is the first day of the rest of your life, we do what we have to do today so we can do what we want to do tomorrow.”
You can check out Keith’s foundation––McCants Foundation––by visiting the link we have provided below. You can also follow along with all of the events and progress Keith has been making by following him on his numerous social media accounts as well.
We’ll be following along with Keith and will be sure to inform our readers as soon as Keith’s book comes out this coming winter.
Feature Photo: al.com
Alabama Photo: Allen Steele/Getty Images