Broncos WR KJ Hamler opens up about injury struggles, battles with mental health

Broncos WR KJ Hamler opens up regarding his struggles with injuries and personal battles the last two years in Denver.

New York Jets v Denver Broncos
New York Jets v Denver Broncos / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

For Denver Broncos WR KJ Hamler, the last two years or so have been a very difficult period of time not only regarding his football career but also the off-the-field battles with mental health and such. Football aside, for any individual human to experience what Hamler has endured, is greatly hapless and should never be wished upon anyone.

In the last four years since being drafted by the Broncos in the second round, KJ Hamler has undergone four different surgeries and has unfortunately sustained multiple injuries along the way. Hamler recently made an appearance on the Full Crcl podcast to discuss the personal side of his journey since becoming a professional athlete and the trials and tribulations he has had to overcome throughout the process.

When discussing his 2021 season, Hamler said going into his surgery to repair his torn ACL and dislocated hip, he weighed in at 180 pounds but was just 140 pounds when he left the hospital. Losing an entire 40 pounds during that stretch of time was an extremely difficult circumstance for Hamler to take in and ultimately led to struggles with his mental health down the road. On top of that, Hamler mentioned that just three months after the surgery, his grandmother passed away from Parkinson's disease.

Hamler had always looked up to his grandmother as a mother figure and as someone that means a lot to him in his life. Hamler also mentioned that he had nearly taken his own life from how heavily this loss had impacted his life. It just goes to show how these famous, talented athletes are humans just like we are and experience the same lows as the rest of humanity therefore, it is important to remember and take into account the tragedies players endure when judging their play on the field.

Hamler also states on the podcast that the football field has always been his "safe place" but recalls a time during practice seven months after his ACL surgery:

"I remember one time in practice, I'm running routes when I was never supposed to touch that field ever again and I'm running 22 miles per hour in a knee brace. I remember I caught a ball and I told my coach 'just give me a minute'. I broke down out of nowhere. When I go to the field, it's my safe place, always has been and that was the one time I felt vulnerable on the field. But one thing one of my coaches told me is 'failure is growth and vulnerability gains trust'. So I'm not afraid to talk about my story."

KJ Hamler recalls a moment in practice

This is yet again another prime example of Hamler's play on the field being affected by personal struggles. By any means, this does not excuse any poor performance however, should be considered when discussing Hamler's contribution to the offense and not always his play itself because there are more driving factors behind the scenes that may not always be brought to life. With Hamler giving a very detailed explanation of the difficult experiences he has gone through over the last few years, we now have a more accurate reason as to why he may not have played his best in 2022 when he was healthy.

To be fair, Russell Wilson did have his fair share of issues at QB and Nathaniel Hackett got off to a terrible start with KJ Hamler simply not utilizing him much at all in the offense but eventually drew up some better plays down the stretch. Entering his fourth season with the Broncos (assuming he makes the team), Hamler will be advantaged with a much better play-caller in head coach Sean Payton and hopefully a much more improved QB in Russell Wilson. But for Broncos fans to see if their former second-round pick can live up to the hype, he'll be tasked with competitions in the WR room during the team's upcoming training camp in order to ensure a spot on the 53-man roster.

Hamler, turning 24 years old in a few days, is coming off just 14 targets in 2022 in which he caught seven of the passes for 165 yards on an impressive 23.6 yards per reception. Despite the KJ Hamler pick not belonging to GM George Paton or HC Sean Payton, you have to imagine they are curious as to what they can get out of the still very young wideout as he has never had a fully healthy season, let alone a competent offensive play-caller or fair QB situation.

Hamler, being a legitimate deep threat, would be a dangerous duo alongside Broncos rookie WR Marvin Mims Jr. catching deep passes from Russell Wilson who is known for his moon balls. Knowing everything KJ Hamler has gone through personally and seeing him so emotional on the Full Crcl podcast, it is very easy to root for the 23-year-old WR and hope for nothing but the best and a fully healthy season for him as he is entering the final year of his contract with the team. I think I can speak for Broncos Country when I say we would be ecstatic to see WRs Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and KJ Hamler all on the field at the same time balling out in the Mile High.

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