Pat Fitzgerald looks on while coaching for Northwestern.
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Former Northwestern Player Details Culture That Made Him 'Severely Depressed'

Braden Jones was a linebacker at Northwestern in the early 2000s, when Pat Fitzgerald was the linebackers coach. He described the environment there, saying the culture needs to be "burned to the ground."

Content warning: This article features information related to hazing, sexual assault, and mental health issues.

The Northwestern football hazing scandal has officially brought down longtime head coach Pat Fitzgerald, as the university fired him Monday night. Since news of the allegations broke, numerous former players have come forward about their time with the Wildcats, some supporting Fitzgerald and others confirming the toxic culture that's been described.

One former player who was coached by Fitzgerald back in the early 2000s wrote an entire Twitter thread detailing his experiences while also confirming some of the hazing practices reported by The Daily Northwestern. The player, Braden Jones, was a linebacker on the team from 2001-04, while Fitzgerald was Northwestern's linebacker coach from 2002-03.

Jones left Northwestern after multiple run-ins with the law and a "near career-ending injury" stemming from a fight. He transferred to SIU and was eventually signed by the Minnesota Vikings as a tight end. Two decades since he put on the Northwestern uniform, he's speaking out.

Braden Jones Speaks Out About Northwestern, Pat Fitzgerald

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald stands on the sideline.

Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Jones, who now works as an orthopedic surgeon in Colorado, said that during his time at Northwestern he was "severely depressed" and had to begin therapy as well as go on antidepressants.

Jones also confirmed one hazing allegation reported by The Daily Northwestern. The "car wash" was alleged to be a tradition in which players were forced to strip down naked and spin around in the showers while other players entered while being sprayed with a hose. Jones said it was called the "loofah line" when he played.

In addition, Jones said, many players left the team for mental health reasons while head coach Randy Walker was there from 1999-2005. He also mentioned how one player died during summer practices. Rashidi Wheeler was a 22-year-old safety who died in 2001 during conditioning drills. He also had asthma.

While Jones ultimately said Fitzgerald supported him during and after his time as a player — and he doubts the physical abuses had continued under Fitzgerald's tenure — he thinks the "institutional memory and culture" that Fitzgerald had long been a part of must be "burned to the ground."

Judging from the university's decision to fire the 48-year-old Fitzgerald, that's exactly what the school appears to be doing. We'll see how it plays out.

MORE: The Details of the Northwestern Football Hazing Scandal Are Truly Disgusting