Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Harry Miller Apr 16, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Harry Miller (76) talks to offensive lineman Jack Forsman (61) during the spring football game at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch Ncaa Football Ohio State Spring Game

The language we use around topics like mental health has become a livewire in recent years as many people work to remove the negative stigmas that exist around them. Something as simple as one word can send a certain message about the importance of mental health (or lack thereof) and that was the case for NBC4 Columbus regarding a story about former Ohio State offensive lineman Harry Miller, who will be attending President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday evening.

Miller, a senior mechanical engineering major at OSU, announced in March that he was medically retiring from football in order to focus on a mental health battle he was dealing with.

“Prior to the season last year, I told Coach [Ryan] Day of my intention to kill myself,” wrote Miller at the time. “He immediately had me in touch with Dr. Candice and Dr. Norman, and I received the support I needed. After a few weeks, I tried my luck at football once again, with scars on my wrists and throat. Maybe the scars were hard to see with my wrists taped up. Maybe it was hard to see the scars through the bright colors of the television. Maybe the scars were hard to hear through all the talk shows and interviews. They are hard to see, and they are easy to hide, but they sure do hurt. There was a dead man on the television set, but nobody knew it.”

Miller has since become an advocate for mental health and emotional wellness, making public appearances and raising awareness. Now, he’s been invited to attend the State of the Union and will sit in First Lady Jill Biden’s viewing box for the president’s speech.

Miller tweeted a photo of himself outside the White House on Tuesday as well.

Plenty of news outlets reported on Miller’s important trip to Washington, D.C., including NBC4 Columbus. However, in their initial report, they described Miller as having “quit the team to address his mental health.”

The connotation of Miller’s “quitting” is exactly the kind of negative association with mental health concerns, especially in the macho world of American football, that many advocates would like to get away from. It’s also a sentiment that the OSU football community certainly wouldn’t agree with.

Among those who found the headline distasteful was former Ohio State wide receiver Johnnie Dixon.

In the early afternoon, NBC4 Columbus added an addendum to the initial tweet, saying “thank you to everyone who has provided feedback on this story. Its headline was updated earlier today and is visible on the linked story.”

The word “quit” still remains in the initial tweet as well as in the URL for the story.

That kind of language might not have caught the attention of the editorial team in the past or even garnered acknowledgment or change, but it’s a good reminder for all news organizations that there’s still a lot of power in words and the ways we use them, even unintentionally.

Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or is in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.