A feature airing on Sunday NFL Countdown (10 a.m. ET, ESPN) will tell the story of Wisconsin teenager Camryn Nasman, who was inspired by former Vikings placekicker Blair Walsh (now with the Seattle Seahawks), her favorite NFL player.
As Jen Lada reports, Nasman was being bullied and having thoughts of suicide. She observed how strong Walsh was in dealing with the social media hate directed at him in the aftermath of missing a field goal that would have won an NFL Wild Card game in early 2016. Nasman wrote a note of encouragement to Walsh, and the Vikings later arranged for the two to meet.
Lada said she prepared for the story by speaking with her sister-in-law, a school psychologist.
“We wanted to make sure that we were covering it in earnest, and that we weren’t making assumptions about mental health and that we weren’t specifically connecting bullying to depression,” she said. “There were a lot of layers to this, and we wanted to make sure we were doing our due diligence as reporters and as producers to represent it properly.
“I think it what will resonate from this is the impact that athletes can have on people, young and old, just by carrying themselves a certain way,” she said. “I don’t think that Blair Walsh was intending to influence anybody by the way he handled the adversity that he experienced, but because he carried himself a certain way, it resonated with someone and then put them on what I consider a better path.”
Tory Zawacki Roy produced the piece for the ESPN Features Unit.