Greg McMullen didn't "quit" the Husker football team. He's simply moving on to the next phase of his life.
The former defensive lineman joined Mike'l Severe on "The Bottom Line" Thursday to shed light on his decision to give up the game of football. McMullen described his "inner struggles," even battles with depression and the realization that his "heart and mind" just weren't in it anymore.
He also discusses his relationship — or lack of one — with defensive coordinator Mark Banker, someone McMullen says he never spoke with throughout their shared time in Lincoln.
McMullen covers much more during his 15-minute appearance. Listen to the full interview below and read through an abbreviated transcript as well.
On how the days have been since he made the decision:
"Definitely it's been kinda hectic. The decision is made and it's out there. All I can do now is move forward."
On how long he's considered giving up football:
"It's always been on my mind. I've been struggling with it the last few years. My grades took a nosedive, and my personal well-being was greatly affected. I wasn't my normal self. I was told to go talk to (a doctor), and it was just like, 'wait a minute. I'm a young guy. I shouldn't be feeling the way I've been feeling.' Ultimately, when I took that break Coach Riley gave me, I looked at the game and realized it isn't for me anymore."
On giving up a potential opportunity to play professionally:
"One thing about me that's different from a lot of people, my whole life didn't revolve around this idea that I have to go pro. Some kids, regardless of their situation, it's, 'I have to go pro. That's my only hope, dream, what I pray to God about.' That's great to have that ambition, but realistically looking at it, 1.4 percent out of 18,000 collegiate football players make it. So for me, I may have the potential, the skill set, the body type, everything they look for, but my heart and my mind wasn't in it."
On who he leaned on most to reach his decision:
"Above all else, my mother. Her only goal for me is to walk across the stage (and graduate). She was very supportive when I was playing football, but she was weary because I'm her baby. She doesn't like her baby getting hit. I talked to her over the course of a few weeks, and ultimately we came to the decision it was best to move forward. Because if i'm feeling like this, it's not only going to affect me, but the people closest to me, and she's the closest person to me."
On his relationship with Mark Banker:
"I don't badmouth anybody. But I have never talked to him. I've seen him, tried to speak to him. Nothing ever really resonated. Coach John Parrella has been there a few weeks, and we probably talked six, seven, eight times over the last few weeks. Same with Coach Riley. Coach Banker has been there over a year, and I never even saw him, never received a text, a call, anything.
"I'm an adult. I don't really get hurt about too many things, especially not if someone isn't reaching out. To me personally, it's more that it would be nice for a defensive coordinator to at least show some appreciation or level of respect for an individual."
On what inspired him to work with children:
"I saw how we grew up and how there were people helping us...Somebody needs to help at-risk kids because people write them off easily. I had teachers say I wasn't going to amount to anything. People write off these kids, the next generation. If they don't have a positive role model, how is anything going to change? I can make a difference because of what I've been through."
On whether he worries that he may one day regret this decision:
"I haven't regretted anything I've ever done in life to this point. I know there's more to life. One door closes, another one opens. You write your book, you end a chapter, you start another one. Life goes on."
On his expectations for the defensive line moving forward:
"Those are equivalent to my little brothers. They're going to work their butts off, and they have so much potential, so much talent. When they put their mind to it, and I know they will, Husker Nation is going to go crazy. Those guys are phenomenal athletes, and they bring a lot to the table."