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Can I Laugh On Your Shoulder?

Apr 5, 2023

My guest this week is Mike Gibson. He played in the NFL for six years for the Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. His third year, he suffered an injury and became addicted to prescription painkillers.

Mike eventually retired from the NFL and became a sheriff’s deputy while still abusing prescription drugs. He was asked to resign after a year due to his unhealthy habits and became addicted to stronger substances. Mike finally made a breakthrough and has now been sober for more than five years.

4:50 – Mike 101

  • Mike is now a community outreach coordinator for the Mental Health Center of San Diego.
  • He watched his older brother play sports growing up, and that made an impression on him.
  • Football was a way to escape his mental health struggles.

9:39 – Mental health struggles

  • Mike was always the short, stocky kid and was big for his age. He got made fun of a lot.
  • Men don’t often talk about body dysmorphia.

13:51 – From the NFL to community coordinator

  • Mike struggled being in the NFL and felt like he wasn’t being paid enough, so he decided to retire.
  • He lost his sense of purpose and lost touch with his friends in the NFL.

21:13 – Drugs a symptom

  • Most people who get help in the community center have mental health problems. Alcohol and drugs are just a symptom.
  • Mike was known as a garbage can addict. He would take anything.

29:15 – Burning bridges

  • Mike burned so many bridges with his family that they had to stop helping him.
  • He didn’t want to go to a faith-based rehab, because he felt like God wasn’t helping him. But the decision to go changed his life.

38:34 – Still married

  • Mike and his wife have been married for 15 years and together for 21 years. She is in recovery as well.
  • They planned to divorce but ended up staying together after going to treatment.

49:14 – Get to know you

  • Last time Mike laughed? When I told him I was a Brown’s fan :)
  • Last time he cried? When two friends passed away.



Sports were a way for me to get out of myself.

The beautiful thing about sports is nobody cares about your background. Nobody cares about financially where you live. If you’re good and you can ball, you can ball.

Men don’t often talk about body dysmorphia. Men struggle with it, too.

Alcohol and drugs are just a symptom. Many people are struggling with mental health.

I was known as a garbage can addict. It doesn’t matter what you got. I want it and I want all of it.

ABOUT MIKE GIBSON: Mike a scholarship to Cal-Berkeley for football and played for 2 years before he got drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008. He played a total of 6 years in the NFL (Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals). (NFL GUARD)

In his 3rd year he suffered an injury and shortly after got addicted to prescription painkillers. He started at 5 mg of Vicodin and by the time he finished his career was taking a minimum of 300 mg of OxyContin daily.

After he retired he became a sheriff's deputy, completing his credentials as class president, abusing OxyContin and adderall the entire duration. He was a deputy for under a year before getting asked to resign for his unhealthy habits. This setback turned him to becoming addicted to stronger substances such as heroin and meth. After going in and out of rehab 6 times, in his last session Mike made a breakthrough and has been sober for 5 years. He has worked in treatment centers as an addiction counselor for the entire 5 years he has been sober.