Former Detroit Lions Quarterback


Real Men Do Cry: A Quarterback’s Inspiring Story of Tackling Depression and Surviving Suicide Loss

Real Men Do Cry, by former NFL quarterback Eric Hipple, is an incredible story of tragedy and triumph. After his 15-year-old son died of suicide, Eric fell into a debilitating downward spiral. Bankrupt and jailed for drunk driving, he found the strength to seek therapy for his own depression and was able to make an amazing comeback. With unflinching honesty, Eric shares his journey, thus opening the door for others to realize that depression is treatable. This page-turner is packed with practical resources for families living with depression and is a valuable tool for counselors and mental health professionals nationwide. Resources include a Nine-Symptom Checklist for Depression along with Signs of Depression and Possible Suicide Risk.



Eric Hipple is a former National Football League (NFL) quarterback whose ten-year career was spent with the Detroit Lions. Born in Texas and raised in southern California, he graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Business Administration. 

Since his 15-year-old son Jeff’s suicide, Hipple has devoted his life to building awareness and breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness. Hipple recently received the University of Michigan 2015 Neubacher Award for his work with the stigma around disabilities and has received the Detroit Lions 2010 Courage House Award, the 2008 Life Saver Achievement Award from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and is a recipient of Detroit One Heart Award from the Detroit Has Heart Foundation (2020).

He co-authored a study examining depression among retired football players, which appeared in the April 2007 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. In addition, Eric was awarded a presidential citation at the American Psychological Association 2006 Annual Convention for his six years of national work combating adolescent depression and suicide prevention.

Eric’s message of resilience has taught awareness to professional, military, and law enforcement groups, as well as schools and youth communities. Through the Under the Helmet program, his message has reached thousands of high schools and youth coaches across the country. In conjunction with Navy’s U.S. Fleet Forces and PAC Fleet, Eric has provided workshops on suicide and destructive behavior prevention throughout the last 12 years. His book Real Men Do Cry, which chronicles his life of football, tragedy, and return to triumph, received a Publisher Presidential Award.

After retiring from University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Depression Center, where he spent eleven years in outreach, Hipple then established his After the Impact program, a neuro-behavioral residential treatment program serving military veterans and former NFL players. His commitment to helping others recognize signs of mental illness and prevent suicide is exhibited through his work with Living Life on the Offense, a school-based education program sponsored by MIRA (Mental Illness Research Association).  He is also the Director of Outreach for After the Impact – a charity he co-founded based on the After the Impact Program. 


Suicide Prevention &
Destructive Behavior

There are different ways of thinking and acting in relation to suicidal behavior. Some who display the classic symptoms of suicidal behavior build up to their act over time or choose methods that require careful planning. Some act out of an immediate crisis, with little or no forethought involved.

In both cases, the decision is made for painful, complex reasons. Mental illness, namely depression, can take hold of one’s thought processes and lead to a pattern of destructive thoughts and behavior. An understanding of mental illnesses and their symptoms can be used for intervention.

Eric Hipple centers his program around suicide prevention. With his own experiences in mental health following his NFL career and with suicide following the death of his son, Eric uses his knowledge to teach awareness and prevention.

*Information presented has been obtained via The University of Michigan studies and training in QPR and ASIST.

Survive & Thrive:
A Quarterback’s Take on Managing Change In a Hectic World

.When change is apparent in or out of the workplace, mental fitness is a key component for managing it. It gives us the ability to care for ourselves and make sure we’re physically able to navigate the turbulent waters ahead.

We are all expected to be on the top of our game and take on the challenges that life presents to us. But managing them physically and psychologically can add another layer of stress. We are all too familiar with the stresses in life and the damage it can do to the biology and the psyche of a person. Resilience, solution-oriented thinking, positive attitude and decision-making with a strong dose of purpose is the foundation for mental fitness. That doesn’t mean that things won’t go wrong, they often do in life, but just surviving is not enough, it is also about thriving.


In Eric’s engaging session, attendees will learn how to:

•  Understand the 5 components of stress control
Predictability, controllability, trust, relationships, and purpose.

Navigate the pillars of mental fitness
Recognizing choices, self-esteem, boundaries, communication, and commitment.   

Recognizing Behavior in ourselves and others

Utilizing the tools of mental fitness, we can live and work with the motto “Survive and Thrive.”



“Eric Hipple’s story is one that is unfortunately too common. Hipple shoes true courage in sharing his story and shows the way to break the stigma of mental illness.”

Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union

“Eric did amazing. He was able to connect with our audience and make the information digestible and understandable. He did great at engaging the room and bringing the mood back up when we got on a more serious topic. People at FCA said this was one of the best presentations they had ever seen, and it was so useful as many of them have dealt with or are dealing with this issue in their lives.”

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

“Eric was approachable and kind to everyone who wanted to talk to him.  His message was timely and certainly reached our students and community.”

Ben Fries

Glen Oaks Community College | Centerville, Michigan

“Eric’s message was very relevant and relate-able with our college students. He had a great balance of identifying the signs/symptoms of depression AND asking “now what can I do about it?”. Empowering, thoughtful, personable.”

Brock Lutz

Hillsdale College | Hillsdale, Michigan

“Eric shared his story with participants of our inaugural adult grief retreat weekend and he more than exceeded our high expectations. He was approachable, personable, candid and inspiring. What a perfect fit he was for our needs.”

Lisa Bartoszek

Lory's Place | St. Joseph, Michigan

“Eric Hipple ‘s  visit to MINOT Air Force Base was exemplary.  Mr. Hipple was able to use his real-life experiences and hardships to gain attention of his audience, who may be going through similar life situations, was second to none.  Many of the younger airmen had no idea of Mr. Hipple’s NFL career yet alone his life experiences however, walked away with a better understanding on how to better handle different life transitions.”

Mr. Daryl Miner

Retired Military - 20 Year Veteran, Serves in Civilian Capacity

“Eric Hipple gave an amazing speech. He was able to connect with our audience and make the information digestible and understandable. He quickly engaged the audience and brought the mood back up when we discussed a more serious topic. Attendees from Fiat/Chrysler mentioned that Eric’s presentation was one of the best they had ever seen. It was timely too as many of them have dealt with or are dealing with the issues we discussed.”

Steve Windom

Area Director, AFSP Area | Michigan



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