Former Aggie quarterback Eric Hipple is USU’s commencement speaker

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2013, file photo, former NFL quarterback Eric Hipple speaks during an NFL Player Health and Safety press conference in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Doug Benc)

In two weeks, Utah State University graduate Eric Hipple will return to Logan as the school’s commencement speaker, but not because of his career as a quarterback in the National Football League.

School President Noelle Cockett told him it goes beyond that.

“No, ‘we want you because of the work you have done in mental health and addiction and that piece,'” Hipple said of his invitation from Pres. Cockett. “I kind of got choked up, because to me, that’s where I’ve been ever since the year 2000.

“This work means so much more to me than my NFL career, than anything.”

He said the suicide of his teenage son, Jeff, and a history of mental illness in his life and the lives of other family members led him to this work.

“My main message is this: there are things that happen to us, and if we don’t talk about them, if we’re not able to know where the resources are, then when things do happen to us – and they will – then we have a chance to bounce back, accept what’s happened and accept where you are.

“And then go forward, rather than get lost and end up where we don’t get help and, frankly, could die by suicide. That’s what I’m trying to prevent.”

Hipple played for Utah State from 1976-1979 before being drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 1980 NFL draft. Hipple spent his entire professional career with the Lions from 1980-1989.

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