A Life-and-Death Puzzle
Rather than protecting the players, he says, the league's concern was, "'the game goes forward--we're protecting that.'"
After he left the Lions in 1989, Hipple started a successful insurance business. But in 2000, when his son Jeff killed himself, his world imploded. When Hipple was jailed for DUI, he realized he needed to understand what could drive a fifteen-year-old to suicide.
At the time, Hipple told the [Salt Lake] Deseret News, "I had never heard of depression." It wasn't until 2002, when he participated in an eight-week program at the U-M Depression Center, that he realized that Jeff had shown classic symptoms of the disease--and that he himself had them, too.
Men of Hipple's generation--especially macho football players--rarely talked about depression. Reinventing himself as an advocate for recognizing and treating depression, he was so effective as a volunteer that Depression Center executive director John Greden hired him. He speaks to, among others, former military service members and retired NFL players about depression, resilience, and suicide prevention.