Jada Pinkett Smith is expanding her “Red Table Talk” brand into the sports world by creating a spinoff show called “The Toughest Opponent,” DEADLINE reports. The new show will be hosted by NFL star Brandon Marshall and will focus on the mental pressures faced by athletes.
Marshall, who boasts a 13-year NFL career with six teams and currently serves as an analyst for Fox Sports’ “First Things First,” has had his own personal struggles with mental health issues. The athlete told PEOPLE in February that he was prone to volatile behavior off the field early in his career.
“The dumb mistakes I made in college,” he said, “the stupid things I’ve said in the media. All of that led to me sitting down with my team, my agent and my assistant at the time, and saying ‘Yes. It’s time to get help and not just talk therapy, but let’s figure out if there’s a program out there.’”
Marshall was eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), which led to him becoming an outspoken mental health advocate. Marshall told PEOPLE, “I think a lot of people suffer in silence, whether they know they’re hurting and they just sit there with their thoughts.” “And I think there’s another group that suffers in silence where they just don’t know any better because they’re a product of their environment,” he further explained.
The goal of “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,” according to Deadline. Show producers told the outlet that “more than 1 in 3 professional athletes suffer from mental health symptoms and disorders.”
Marshall told DEADLINE, “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.”