On Tuesday, August 31 at 10:00 PM ET/PT, and on dates throughout September, HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel will include an exclusive interview with former NFL lineman Alonzo Spellman, about his struggle with bipolar disorder.
Spellman recently completed 18 months in federal prison after a terrifying incident on a 2002 airline flight: -the latest in a string of bizarre episodes dating back to 1998, when he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (manic depression), after threatening to commit suicide during a standoff with Chicago police.
NAMI National Board member Xavier Amador helped to evaluate Spellman's illness for the federal court. With treatment, Spellman has gained greater insight into the disorder and come a long way toward recovery.
A former Ohio State All-American and first-round draftee of the Bears in 1992, Spellman showed great promise in his early years in Chicago, producing sacks on the field and earning praise in the community for his charity work with inner-city kids.
Spellman talks candidly with host Bryant Gumbel about his downward spiral. Other interviews include: Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison of Johns Hopkins University; former Chicago Bears captain Mike Singletary; and Delta pilot, Capt. Robert Freund. In 2003, Gumbel also helped to break the stigma barrier about mental illness in pro sports through his interview on former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw's struggle with depression.
Other HBO play dates for the Real Sports episode with the Spellman segment include: Sept. 2 (12:00 Noon, 8:00 p.m.), Sept. 6 (11:00 a.m., 11:50 p.m.), Sept. 8 (9:00 a.m., 7:00 p.m.), Sept. 11 (10:00 a.m.) and Sept. 13 (5:00 p.m.). All times are ET/PT. Check local cable listings.