Many of the stories in sports this week will focus on the Super Bowl and the roads taken by its participants—such as Aaron Rodgers, of Chico, beating the odds to become a star NFL quarterback—but one story worth reading is a piece about former San Jose Sharks player Tom Cavanagh, written by the Mercury News’ Mark Emmons.

Cavanagh wasn’t a star; he grinded his way to a brief NHL career, where he scored just one goal while playing for San Jose. But during his brief life, unbeknownst to many of his former teammates and coaches, Cavanagh was battling a serious mental illness: schizophrenia.

In the machismo world of sports, especially professional sports, mental illnesses are often viewed as a sign of weakness to be hidden at all costs. Unfortunately for Cavanagh, who did receive some help from the clubs he played with, he couldn’t overcome his demons and took his own life at just 28 years of age.

If anything positive can be taken from his story, it will be that an honest discussion about athletes suffering with mental illnesses can take place, and not just behind closed doors.

“Tom Cavanagh: A Tortured Life” – Mercury News