The fear of flying, otherwise known as aerophobia, aviophobia, or pteromerhanophobia, is a phenomenon that lives among many – including the brave athletes in modern history.
The National Football League (NFL) players and coaches may appear thick, tall, gigantic, and brave; however, getting themselves pivoting in the sky for hours is something many players are afraid of.
California Polytechnic State University football team’s plane crash incident and how late John Madden escaped plane crash have been heavily discussed due to some conspiracy theories encircling it.
John Madden had always publicly expressed fear of flying, but which other NFL current or retired player has aerophobia?
Let’s show you four (4) NFL players who have (or had) a history of fear of flying.
1. John Madden
Many people, especially NFL fans, know that John Madden’s preferred mode of transportation is his bus. To avoid flying to play games, he would go for the bus in order to escape his fears.
However, some years after the tragic California Polytechnic State University football team’s plane crash incident, his son Joseph Madden disclosed in an interview with The Business Journals in the 1990s that his father’s avoidance of airplanes wasn’t due to fear of flying but somewhat claustrophobic.
This is one of the reasons why Madden initially established Goal Line Productions – a video production service in Pleasanton, California – to avoid having to fly to Los Angeles or New York for studio work.
2. Cortland Finnegan
The former Tennessee Titans cornerback disclosed in December 2018 that he has a fear of flying after making the Pro Bowl that year.
A report by the Associated Press (via ESPN) stated that before the Pro Bowl, Finnegan was thinking of taking a tranquilizer or something to help him through the flight.
Finnegan revealed that he is petrified and has thought of traveling to Hawaii on a cruise ship with 30 people, including friends, family, coaches, and teammates.
3. Donovan Mitchell
The Utah Jazz guard has a fear of flying, too. He disclosed during a press soiree in April 2021 that he was extremely scared when his team’s plane had an emergency landing at Salt Lake City Airport in March 2021.
Donovan Mitchell was part of his team’s Delta charter flight that collided with a flock of birds, causing engine damage and forcing the flight crew to make an emergency landing back at the airport this year.
“I was scared as s***,” he told the press in April. “I immediately started texting my mom and my sister, telling them ‘This could be it.’”
Mitchell now plans to travel with his team on only road trips due to fear of flying.
4. James Harrison
The former NFL linebacker stands tall and massive and looks like a goliath; however, he fears flying.
In 2009, James Harrison didn’t honor a White House invitation by President Barack Obama after the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl.
His reason? He could not fly out to Washington, D.C., due to fear of flying.
Even though his decision caused some backlash, his revelation repelled it. It was also uncovered that Harrison refused to take team flights while playing in the NFL and would avoid air travel whenever possible.