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Dissertation Title:

Affective States of Retired Black NFL Players: Unsilencing Voices to Discover Emotional


Dana L. Kline

Date, Time & Place:

November 2, 2020 at


This dissertation identified affective themes and the inner voices of retired Black National Football League (NFL) players by following the dialectics of psychological processes using a relational and voice-centered approach (Gilligan & Eddy, 2017) in order to glean the nuances found within the margins of communication. Depth psychological and critical race theories provided a foundation in the framing of the research. I interviewed three Black men who are former NFL players about the experiences that have shaped their identities, personal values, and range of emotional responses. An array of topics was explored, including emotional support, aggression, racism, NFL culture, identity, and Black masculinity. The Listening Guide (Brown & Gilligan, 1993; Gilligan, 2015) was used to analyze the interview data, and highlighted the multiple perspectives and emotional qualities of each informant. Listening to the implicit, unspoken, and contradictory perspectives, in addition to ego syntonic statements, yielded an expansive investigation of the complexities of an understudied population. The findings resulted in five affective themes and four inner voices that were mutually shared amongst the informants.


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  • Program/Track/Year: Clinical Psychology, Track A, 2015
  • Chair: Dr. Avedis Panajian
  • Reader: Dr. Elizabeth Schewe
  • External Reader: Dr. Edward Rounds
  • Keywords: NFL, Black, Masculinity, Males, Affect, Emotion, Retired, Athlete, Identity, Qualitative