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.