The Ravens rookie class took off their helmets and put down their playbooks Thursday night to engage in an important discussion about what it means to be a man off the football field.
The rookies attended a local screening of the film, "The Mask You Live In," which "follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America's narrow definition of masculinity."
Former Baltimore Colt Joe Ehrmann, who is featured in the film and is a motivational speaker on the topic, also addressed the audience before and after the film at Baltimore's Senator Theatre.
"I feel like I could really relate to a lot of it," sixth-round rookie wide receiver Darren Waller said. "I feel like a lot of young guys are kind of forced to be somebody, and are molded into somebody that society expects, instead of trying to be who they really are and who they want to be. It's a really important issue not only here, but across the country."
Attending the film screening was part of the overall rookie development program put together by Ravens Director of Player Development Harry Swayne. The Ravens devote significant time and resources to helping their rookie class handle off-the-field challenges of becoming a professional athlete.
"We'll take some of the things brought up tonight and have conversations about it," Swayne said. "We give the rookies an opportunity to talk about some of the issues that have already happened in their home. We give them a safe forum to talk about it."
All of the proceeds from Thursday's screening benefitted Baltimore's House of Ruth, which is one of the nation's leading centers on intimate partner violence. The film is part of the House of Ruth's "Man Up" initiative, which "challenges the attitudes and beliefs of men so women and children can live free of intimate partner violence and take action when it occurs."
Below is a trailer of the film. (Warning: The trailer contains language that may be offensive to some viewers).