By his own account, Sidney Jones IV didn’t have to face a great deal of adversity for most of his life before his senior year at the University of Washington, and that was particularly true when it came to football.
After being a standout player on a successful West Covina High School team, Jones became a three-year starter and eventually one of the best cornerbacks in the nation with the Huskies, looking like a possible first-round pick when decided to forego his senior season for the 2017 draft.
But then Jones’ football career took a dramatic turn when he tore his Achilles tendon during Washington’s pro day, an injury that forced him to drop to the second round of the draft. Jones missed nearly his entire rookie season with the Philadelphia Eagles, then over the next two seasons he struggled to earn consistent playing time, in part due to more injuries. Jones was eventually fired by the team that drafted him, then traded him from his second team, Jacksonville, for a sixth-round pick.
Those struggles on the field took Jones to a dark place, leading him to battle depression and anxiety. It took some time, but Jones eventually found help in the form of a therapist, a decision that helped improve both his quality of life and his game on the field. That journey is why, when Seahawks players wore custom cleats to last season’s My Cause, My Cleats game, Jones proudly sported a pair of pink shoes emblazoned with Mental’s name and logo. Health America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting overall mental health for all.
And it’s also why Jones is encouraged by the launch of the Seahawks’ new mental health program, Mental Health Matters.
“It’s really important to me because it’s something I’ve been through personally,” said Jones, who joined the Seahawks via trade with Jacksonville before the start of last season. “Growing up, I never faced too much adversity, never had too much of a struggle. It was kind of an easy road — well in football, everything came and went. Then I got the Achilles injury before the draft, and that was a big shock. for me. First surgery, first major injury, and that got me through some dark times. I tried to stay positive about it, but I had a moment where I just didn’t feel like myself, and that was weighing on me. I didn’t realize I needed help until maybe a couple of years later, and I never had a chance to talk about it. But coming out of it, coming out of that dark space, I got some help. I talked to a therapist and found a way”.
Mental Health Matters is a program that will focus on destigmatizing, normalizing, and fostering conversations around mental health. The Seahawks will partner with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to provide resources and steps to get help, while also providing warning signs of mental illness and what to do when those signs are present, including steps to get the right help.
“If you’re going through a tough time and adversity hits you, you need someone to talk to, you need a support system,” Jones said. “Some people have different support systems – family, friends, therapists – and mine turned out to be a therapist who helped me, and my wife, she was with me through this process. It’s been a good journey learning about mental health, learning the importance about it, because those dark days that you go through sometimes, and there’s always a silver lining to talking about it and having a support system, expressing it openly and not being in your own box, I feel like it helped in the process of coming back to be who he was.”
Regaining who he was helped Jones enjoy the best season of his career with the Seahawks in 2021, setting career highs in games played (16), starts (11), passes defensed (10) and tackles (66). He also believes that being healthier mentally helped him stay healthier physically.
“My mental health was coming out through the injuries,” he said. “I feel like anxiety and depression manifested through my body, and you need your body to work. It was all correlated, my mind wasn’t right and it showed in my profession. I was just making sure the mind was right.” . , because the mental controls everything. So it’s very important to raise awareness so that everyone has the opportunity to be the best version of themselves.”