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Big Ten Players of the Week: Week 11

“Offer hope. It can and does get better.” — BRT

Just a heads up: this week’s intro is about depression, suicide, and being there for others. If that’s not something you can or want to read about, might want to scroll down a ways. I promise, though, that it’s worth taking the time, even if reading what Cassius Winston wrote to his brother Zachary makes you cry every single time.

View this post on Instagram

Ima put this on here cause I need you to read it, and I feel like this the best way for it to get to you. I love you bro, w everything I have in my entire body. I love you so much, if I could carry yo pain I would wear it on my shoulders just to see you happy and wouldn’t think twice. I understand it was to much, I understand I really do and yo story won’t end here. I can promise you that, the next time I run into someone in your situation ima save them, cause that’s wha you would want me to do. I wish it was a term that goes deeper then brother, cause that’s what’s you are to me, 1/3 of my heart. And I’m struggling because there is nothing that can replace that Smoothie. I need you, I miss you. But I’m so proud of you, bro you fought every demon w everything you had in you. You went to war w yourself every single day not knowing if you could win that battle. And you won time after time. You stood tall and you let your family love you, you gave me everything I asked for, just one day you didn’t have enough strength. And that’s ok man, that’s really ok, ppl can’t go through wha you went through, you are the strongest, wisest, kindest, most caring person. The best brother/ gang member I could ever ask for. And I wouldn’t replace you or change any single thing about you. Not one. I don’t like doing these cause I feel like they for show, but I need to you to read this Smoothie and I need you to know, that I love you and I care for you. And the only reason I can sit here and still stand is because I know you not in no more pain. The only reason I’m still standing. After that bro we really got beef, and when I see you again I’m beating yo ass. Cause it’s no way you got me out here trying to adjust to life w out you bro. This shit so deep bro we suppose to see all this out together. But we’ll have that convo the next time I see you Smoothie Bean. Rest up my baby and keep watching over us, save me a seat. And when it’s all said and done ima have so much to tell you. You gone already know but ima tell you anyway. Love you Gang member wish your story coulda had a diff ending, it’s ok tho enjoy it up there. Ima see you soon enough #LuvSmoothie

A post shared by Cash #LuvSmoothie (@cassiuswinston5) on

Get help if you’re suffering. Depression tells you you’re alone and unlovable. That’s the greatest lie it tells. You’re not alone and you are loved. God’s always there for you (even if you’re not a believer). The past can’t be changed, and the future isn’t here yet. Instead find peace in this moment, because the present is all we ever really have. And each present moment, we are loved by those around us. I’m not ashamed of my depression. I’m proud that I’ve found the strength to seek peace for my head and my heart.

—OTE user Mochila03

The above quote was part of a conversation on Monday’s OTE Fanshot (there’s a new one every day, and we chat about really anything except hashtag politics; come join!) The impetus for the extremely supportive and open conversation was the posting of Cassius Winston’s Instagram post, along with the news that authorities reported that Zachary Winston, Cassius’s younger brother, died by suicide after intentionally walking in front of an Amtrak train on Saturday, November 9th.

The pain Cassius speaks of in his post is familiar to a lot of people, whether suffering depression personally or suffering through a close family or friend who has depression. The helplessness and desire to share the burden he expresses is, in my experience, a very common sentiment. And it’s a sentiment people in our silly football blog community know as well.

Sometimes when she seems her happiest, it’s actually all a front. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to help other than listen and be supportive — and that’s only if they will even open up and let you in. She hides the fact that she has depression from almost everyone outside of me, her family, and her therapists/doctors. And even when she’s struggling the most, she will often keep it from me and try to deal with it herself. There’s days where she can’t even get out of bed, she feels like everything is her fault, she feels she doesn’t deserve nice things, etc. It really sucks, especially knowing there’s not much I can do to help.


Depression is a monster, a serious health condition. Let’s destroy it as a taboo topic, it’s killing too many. As a parent it’s one of the things that scares the shit out of me. Will I identify it if/when it occurs in my children, will I be able to help?


There is no doubt that our society has both come a long way and still has a long way to go when it comes to talking about, treating, assisting with, and empathizing with both depression and suicide. People are more willing to talk about it, doctors are more willing and able to treat it, and pop culture, particularly television and movies, include therapy, depression, mental health, and the problems, stigmas, treatment, and reality of the same much more frequently. It’s still not enough, though.

Nobody doubts you or rolls their eyes if you need help carrying in groceries because you have a broken leg, or had a recent surgery, or are bedridden with the flu. If you’re foolish enough to do things like exercise or play sports after age 30, and you pull a hamstring, some d-bag isn’t there to tell you to suck it up or get over it. Society has no problem understanding, respecting, and empathizing with an injury or illness they can see, or involving an issue they’ve dealt with before. Depression doesn’t get that sort of “benefit of the doubt” or consideration...yet.

WhiteSpeedReceiver: Depression is a motherfucker and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help. If you need it, please know that it doesn’t make you a lesser person to seek it.

stewmonkey13: But as a motherfucker, depression WILL lie to you and tell you exactly that.

DJ: I second [WhiteSpeedReceiver]

LPW: I third [WhiteSpeedReceiver]

Even little things matter. Offering to help, offering to listen. Just being the one person in someone’s life who acts “normally” when someone is depressed or when someone tells you about his or her depression. Things like referring to suicide as “death by suicide” rather than “committing suicide” helps reverse the millenia-long trend of treating suicide, and the depression that can lead to it, as something fully within a person’s control.

Talking about it openly is the only way to get more people to speak up.

Nipping your pride in the bud and allowing yourself to be vulnerable isn’t easy, but it is rewarding.


I’ve been lucky to have never dealt with depression personally, but like everyone else, I’ve had close friends and family who have or had mental health problems or illnesses. My job brings me in contact with depression and suicide on occasion. But as I said, I consider myself extremely lucky to have never struggled myself. If I did, though, I know for certain that I have friends, family, and internet “friends” (j/k you’re totally real friends to me) who would help, empathize, or even just listen.

Unfortunately, not everyone is in the same situation, but I’ll promise that if you want to talk about what’s going on, OTE is a place you can do so as anonymously as you want. But let me reiterate what Mochila03 and others have said and will say: There’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. We all need help at some point, we can’t always control everything.

“It’s okay to not be okay, and there are people out there who can help if you’re willing to open up.”


ZuzuRU: On Mental Health. Paraphrased from a Clinical Psychology researcher effectively working in the “changing society” field of psych:

  1. Make sure you’re seeking mental health for self-compassion NOT to keep up with the meritocracy.
  2. It’s not YOUR fault that you have these anxieties and stresses. There is nothing WRONG with you. Self compassion to not beat yourself up for the way your own mind reacts naturally is important-- it’s the culture, not you. You’re not broken.
  3. Just because “all the resources are there” because “mental health is “destigmatized now” doesn’t mean that you not getting “better” is YOUR fault. That, “oh you’re not better because YOU haven’t made the call or gone to see someone.” That YOU are the one not seeking the available resources. These resources often exist to enforce the meritocracy.
  4. Modern mental health treatment, while destigmatizing, is now frustratingly associated with enabling society and culture’s definition of success rather than just existing to help people on its own merit. It’s almost always to “help” people TO be “successful” in society. That people need to get out of their own way to be able to function in a designed society.
  5. Your mind is not your enemy to your success. It is you and it is reacting to society’s stressors the way you react to society’s stressors. It is not this entity that is separate from you, the way much of modern mental health dialogue portrays it as.

I’m here to listen too. And so, I imagine, are most people on this site.

Depression is a hard thing for us to see in ourselves. It takes real introspection. If anybody here is struggling, whether you realize it or not, I’m happy to talk to you. Even if you don’t want to talk about your own pain and just want to hear about my journey so you can take the first step yourself, I’m here. Love you all.


BigRedTwice: If someone close to you seems like they’re struggling, be brave and reach out. I’m thankful for the many who have persistently loved me through hard seasons. Don’t tell them to “just cheer up.” Help walk them through options. Like your therapist? Pass along the therapist’s name. Offer to go to your friend’s appointment with them and wait there if they seem scared to go alone. Offer hope. It can and does get better. Ultimately, it requires action on the part of the sufferer, but we can all do our part to be supportive and encouraging friends and family members.

WSR: I second BRT.

BRT: Other things to know about therapy: it’s ok to try several different therapists. They have different approaches and personalities, and it is an incredibly vulnerable thing to do, after all. If you go to one and it doesn’t feel like a good fit, don’t conclude “therapy” isn’t for you--it might just be that that therapist wasn’t.

WSR: When you meet with a therapist, ask how their approach works. Even if you’ve done some research and guessed what works for you, they might not be the right one for you. That’s OK.

DJ: I would like to emphasize BRTs point of providing the therapist point of contact. People are afraid to admit it or research it but providing them the first person to contact can make the difference

Resources: Crisis text depression hotline
Suicide prevention helpline
National Alliance on Mental Illness

Offensive Player of the Week: Rashod Bateman

Wide Receiver - Minnesota Golden Gophers hosting Penn State Nittany Lions

7 recs, 203 yards, 1 TD

John Autey

Bateman had nearly 23 of Minnesota’s receiving yards on the day and nearly 12 of Minnesota’s completed passes. Some of Bateman’s catches were fantastic. More than zero of them were when he was somehow crazy wide open. As in, “South Carolina receiver at the end of the home loss to App State” open. I’m suddenly hoping the season finale at TCF is played in some sort of windstorm. Hopefully Wisconsin’s secondary and pass rush are both better than Penn State’s...also come on Iowa, and Illinois, don’t let the rest of your conference down!

Honorable Mention - Offensive Player of the Week: Week 11

Josh Imatorbhebhe - WR - Illinois Fighting Illini
4 receptions, 178 yards, 2 TDs. Sure half his yards came on one 83-yard TD, but they still count and he still had 2 TDs!

David Bell - WR - Purdue Boilermakers
Coach Brohm sure likes to pick a favorite receiver and ride him into the ground, doesn’t he? 14(!) receptions for 115 yards and 1 TD.

Elijah Collins - RB - Michgan State Spartans
28 carries, 170 yards, 2 TDs. Collins had a great game even though his team somehow blew a 50 point 4th quarter lead.

Defensive Player of the Week: Sydney Brown

Defensive Back - Illinois Fighting Illini at Michigan State Spartans
12 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 touchdown (76 yards), 1 pass defended

Honorable Mention - Defensive Player of the Week: Week 11

Antoine Winfield, Jr. - DB/arm punt returner - Minnesota Golden Gophers
2 interceptions, both near the goal line, plus 11 tackles. Hard to be more impactful in the biggest game his team has seen in a long time...except if he’d scored a TD.

Noah Harvey - LB - Michigan State Spartans
9 tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 2 PDs. Not everything about MSU’s loss to Illinois was hilariously terrible. Harvey had a solid stat sheet game.

Cameron Ruiz - DB - Northwestern Wildcats
9 tackles, 2 PDs, 1 INT. Northwestern does still have some good things about it. Promise.

Special Teams Player(s) of the Week: Blake Hayes

Punter - Illinois Fighting Illini at Michigan State Spartans
9 punts, 44.6 avg, 60 long, 3 inside 20 yard line

Cannot WAIT for snow football

Same shit, excellent punting, different week. I’m out of things to say about Blake Hayes in this column, but if he doesn’t win the Ray Guy Punter of the Year, the Big Ten should absolutely secede from the NCAA. Did I already propose Big Ten secession? Yes, last year, but that was just in response to OSU being left out of the playoff again. Relatively minor offense compared to some schmo from Georgia or Bama or somewhere winning the Ray Guy Award in 2019.

Hashtag If Hayes Doesn’t Win Ray Guy, We Riot.

Honorable Mention - Special Teams Players of the Week: Week 11

Keith Duncan - K - Iowa Hawkeyes
A kicker in STPOTW! What a rare treat. Duncan was 3/3 on field goals with a long of 40 and converted his lone PAT attempt.

Blake Haubeil - K - Ohio State Buckeyes
1/1 FG, 23 long; 8/8 XPs. I threw the kicker rules out this week (100% FGs and at least 3 attempts, 100% XPs) because it’s hilarious that Haubeil went 8/8 on extra points.

OTE’s Offensive Play of the Week: Week 11

Not so much an “offensive play” as a “perfect clip to post once you’ve gotten bowl eligible for the first time since Ducktales was on.”

OTE’s Defensive Play of the Week: Week 11

Before you ask, no I don’t have a blurrier, more pixelated version of this I can post.

Rondale’s Corner Tanner Time

18/20, 339 yards, 3 TDs. Lol dude couldn’t even complete 95% of his passes (like he did against Purdue earlier this year somehow. Also lol dude couldn’t even complete a pass to five different receivers.
If Tanner Morgan didn’t get his own weekly section that totally wasn’t begun as a joke about him being mediocre, he would have won OPOTW. Alas, he’s stuck here at the bottom of the article.

Jammin’ with Jonathan

31 carries for 250 yards, and more than half those yards came in the 4th quarter. Somehow, Wisconsin still needed a goal-line stop on a 2-point conversion to win in regulation, despite its best player getting the ball 31 times and averaging 8 yards every time he touched it.