A typical Wednesday in the NFL means a turning of the page to the next game, the next opponent. Local media ask questions of Patriots players as they prepare for Sunday, but Josh Uche's press conference took an unexpected, but important, turn on Oct. 27.
ESPN's Mike Reiss held up a sheet of paper that was distributed both to media and in the Patriots locker room from the Josh Uche Foundation with mental health resources for athletes. After an injury in college, Uche said he struggled with his mental health. In those difficult days, Uche realized how crucial these resources and conversations are for athletes in particular.
"It kind of took me to a dark place," Uche said. "In that process, I just thought to myself, 'Man, this is a hard way for athletes to live.' Athletes need a very accessible way to therapy and different things. I started jumping into the mental health side of things, and it's kind of something that's stuck with me ever since the injury."
Uche, whose parents are from Nigeria, said his last name means "mind" in Igbo, so for this mental health to be the torch he carries feels kismet.
Whether it's an injury, sidelining them from the sport they love, a clinical diagnosis or a personal crisis, Uche said athletes shouldn't be taught to bury it. More athletes -- from Simone Biles to Kevin Love -- are speaking up about what they deal with mentally and emotionally. Uche said there has traditionally been a stigma to just deal with it for men playing football, but he is hopeful that things are changing for the better.
"Growing up as males, you're always told to toughen up, kind of suck it up and stuff like that," Uche said. "I've seen the NFL do a lot of different initiatives to make mental health a priority. I feel like the tide changing, and that stigma is starting to soften up a little bit."
For Uche, this has become the cornerstone of his foundation, which also aims to help at-risk youth. Since coming to New England, Uche said there was an emphasis on allowing players to explore what interests them outside of football through their own work or the Patriots Foundation.
"One of the main things when I first got here was just making it known how many resources are available for whatever endeavor you're trying to pursue," Uche said. "The Patriots have done a great job, in my opinion, just allowing guys to know which avenues they need to take in order to get something done, whether it be for their foundation, marketing, or whatever it may be."
You can learn more about the Josh Uche Foundation here.