Pitcock, a defensive tackle and former third-round draft choice by the Indianapolis Colts, was signed Wednesday night and practiced with the team Thursday morning at Bing Training Camp. But that’s just the latest chapter in his intriguing story.
After playing the 2007 season with the Colts, Pitcock bolted on the way to a training camp practice the following year. He left the game at the age of 24 because he was battling depression. He has not played in the league since.
“I had just gotten to a point in my life where I was down and just made some rash decisions of quitting,” Pitcock said after his first practice as the newest member of the Seahawks – a team that has now made 108 roster moves since coach Pete Carroll and general manager were hired in January.
And what did he do instead of playing football? “I cast myself away from everybody and became almost a hermit,” he said. “I was a hermit for a year. No one knew where I was at.”
Pitcock remained in Indianapolis. But, as he put it, “I just stayed in my apartment and did nothing.”
Well, not exactly nothing. “I ended up using video games as my out, I got sucked into that,” he said. “I got lost to the world.”
Pitcock needed help to rediscover the real world, and himself. He got it from several sources – his family and friends, the NFL Players Association, the Colts’ organization, a counselor and now the Seahawks.
“It comes back to friends and family and support,” he said. “They all have given me great support and love.
“I went and got some help with mental health (professionals). You always think you know yourself better, but it takes someone else to tell you who you really are. So I just kind of learned who I was – my temperament, because I’m introverted.
“It took me a while to get my bearings back and get back into society. … As I found out later, a lot of athletes do deal with depression and anxiety and a lot of issues. But it doesn’t really get covered as much because being alpha males and just being the strong type, you try not to show your weaknesses.”
Now, it’s Pitcock who would like to be on the giving end.
“I’m actually going to start some kind of charity to help kids who are addicted to video games,” he said. “I got to a point where I broke and burned many video games trying to quit. But that was my outing, so once I got rid of that and realized I could start eating healthy and exercising and do all that, I got back on track.”
A track that led him back to football, and the Seahawks.
Why the Seahawks? “Well, they wanted me,” he said with a chuckle.
Shifting into a more serious – but not too serious – mood, he offered, “I’m ready for a fresh start, and think they’re ready for me, too.”
The Seahawks already knew about Pitcock, a 6-foot-2, 296-pounder who played at Ohio State. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley worked with him at the Senior Bowl in 2007, when Bradley was coaching for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That’s also where line coach Dan Quinn met him for the first time.
“When he was coming out, he was somebody we had interest in because he has initial quickness,” Quinn said. “He has a long way to go, but for the first day I was encouraged.
“It sounds like he’s in the right place, and you have to be to play. I’m all about second chances and giving guys opportunities.”
Pitcock played nose tackle with the Colts. Thursday, he was working as the three-technique tackle spot in practice – and impressing everyone with that quickness that first attracted Quinn.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking,” Pitcock said. “But the nice thing, it’s probably the first camp in – I guess I’ve done 10 years now – the first one I actually was excited for.
“I went back to my inner-child. I’m having fun now, coming out and doing fun things. I’m not as nervous.”
That was obvious in talking to Pitcock. Despite discussing what have to be painful memories, when he wasn’t smiling, he was laughing – and making the reporters gathered around him laugh.
“I’m having a fun time out here and the guys are very welcoming,” he said. “I think some of the guys don’t know my story – that I got released (last week) by Indy. But that’s fine.
“I’m not trying to make it a big deal. I left quietly. I’d like to come in quietly and show what I can accomplish with the team, and not talk about it.