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Top NFL player and Milwaukee native shares his battle with anxiety

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A top NFL player from Milwaukee is sharing with the world his battle with anxiety.

Brandon Brooks, a star offensive lineman with the Philadelphia Eagles, had to leave Sunday’s game because of it.

He said he had been vomiting before the game and was feeling nauseous on the field.

Brooks knows how untraditional it is for a football player to talk openly about a mental health illness.

“We’re not supposed to have any emotions,” he said. “We’re supposed to play and do what we’re told, but at the end of the day, we’re people. We go through the same thing everyone else goes through.”

Brooks played his high school ball at Riverside University High School.

His coach was Patrick Wagner, who still leads the team.

Wagner says he’s proud of Brooks, and the current RUHS players are paying attention to Brooks’ honesty.

“He’s acknowledged what he’s going through, what he’s trying to deal with,” Wagner said. “Other people say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m dealing with that same thing and thanks for saying something.’”

Jaimie Hauch, a mental health counselor with West Grove Clinic, applauds Brooks for helping destigmatize anxiety as a mental illness.

“People saying, ‘What does he have to be worried about?’ Anxiety doesn’t care what you’re worried about,” Hauch said. “It doesn’t discriminate in any way, shape or form.”

Wagner says players today are more likely to talk about what they’re feeling than when Brooks played at Riverside.

His job also has become about more than just X’s and O’s.

He says he’s more aware of what’s going on in the players’ lives, at home and in school.

Wagner says Brooks has always been a team-first player. Brooks said the worst part about leaving Sunday’s game was not being there for his teammates when they needed him.

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