Facebook Series Red Table Talk has become a staple talk show known for its open conversation on some of the most personal and rarely discussed in-depth topics. And now the Jada Pinkett-Smith-led series is expanding into the world with sports with Toughest Opponent. With Brandon Marshall as host.
Red Table Talk Productions is developing the series that will address the mental pressures on athletes who have been thrust into the news through Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, tennis star Naomi Osaka, tennis star Rafael Nadal, and NFL stars Richard Sherman and Aaron Rodgers.
READ: 15 TV Shows and Movies That Highlight Black Mental Health
The Toughest Opponent is to create a groundbreaking program that provides a safe space platform for professional athletes to open up about mental illness, a topic that has been off-limits and taboo in elite sports. Even though elite athletes are called warriors and are measured by how they handle pressure and injuries, recent headlines show they pay a high price both while performing and especially post-career with CTE and other injurious factors. The producers say that latest research shows that more than 1 in 3 professional athletes suffer from mental health symptoms and disorders.
Former NFLer Brandon Marshall has signed on to host The Toughest Opponent, and the choice of Marshall is very fitting as his own personal issues once overshadowed his NFL career. And in 2011 he sought professional help after three months of assessment and treatment, Marshall was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Since then, he has become an outspoken advocate for mental health, and a go-to person for athletes, coaches and sports executives seeking help.
READ: Terrence Terrell and Anthony Hemingway Team Up For Skin Deep, An Animated Short on Colorism, Mental Health, and Self-Love
“A decade ago, I spoke publicly for the first time about my borderline personality disorder diagnosis. Now, I am sharing the mic. I have vowed to make it my life’s purpose to remove the stigma of mental health in sports. I cannot be more excited to partner with Red Table Talk Productions to amplify the powerful truths of my fellow athletes. Mental health is part of the human condition, and athletes shouldn’t be expected to check their humanity at the door. The Toughest Opponent is a place where they will never have to.”
Pinkett continued, “Brandon is a pioneer in this field. Sports values mental toughness and by standing up and admitting his own struggles with BPD, Brandon is an extraordinary example for others who otherwise suffer silently.”
Red Table Talk Productions through Westbrook Studios and Gen Z are producing Toughest Opponent. Marshall, Pinkett Smith, Ellen Rakieten and Kennard McGuire will serve as executive producers.
I’m no sports fan but I am an advocate of mental health, especially in the sports realm, so I’m all here for this.