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Andrew Sweat: Concussion fears led me to turn down the NFL

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After playing linebacker at Ohio State for four years, Andrew Sweat signed as an undrafted free agent with the Browns this month. But Sweat surprised the Browns by changing his mind and leaving the team’s rookie minicamp over the weekend.

Sweat said on ESPN’s College Football Live that fear of life-long health effects from concussions was what made him decide he didn’t want to play in the NFL.

“It’s definitely scary,” Sweat said. “I hear all the things about concussions, what happened to Junior Seau, it’s scary the repercussions that can happen because of a concussion, and it’s just something that I didn’t want to risk. I have a long life ahead of me and I think I’m a lot more than just a football player. I didn’t want to be in a situation where the depression, all that stuff sets in because of the concussions.”

Sweat dismissed any notion that he decided not to go through with football because he doesn’t love the game, or because he didn’t think he was going to make the Browns’ roster as an undrafted free agent.

“It’s definitely the concussions,” Sweat said. “I love the game of football, I’ve played it since I was 5 years old, I love everything about the game of football. It’s definitely who I am, it’s my favorite thing in the world. But when it comes to my health I just had to step away because my health is more important than the game of football.”

At Ohio State, Sweat had concussion problems that got progressively worse.

“I suffered three concussions in college,” Sweat said. “My last one was against Purdue, which was a very bad one. I stumbled off the field, could hardly walk, was numb in my fingers. It was really bad. The symptoms continued in early spring and even through the draft, but I wanted to play football, I wanted to give it a shot, so I signed with the Browns and went to the minicamp. But I slipped and fell in the shower, I hit my head — not even that hard — against the wall, and that brought back all those concussions. I went to the trainers with the Browns and consulted my family and decided to step away from the game.”

With more than 2,000 former players now suing the NFL over concussions, it may be just a matter of time before several thousand more players are suing the NCAA and their colleges. College football is a big business, too, and as Sweat knows first hand, it’s also a big business that leaves some of its employees with long-term health problems. The only difference is that in college football, the players aren’t actually employees, because they don’t collect a paycheck in exchange for putting their health on the line.

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32 Responses to “Andrew Sweat: Concussion fears led me to turn down the NFL”
  1. thegreatgabbert says: May 17, 2012 4:05 PM

    Then Andrew suffered another concussion when Terrelle Pryor picked him up and threw him into the stands as part of a victory celebration.

  2. mancave001 says: May 17, 2012 4:05 PM

    Chicken.

  3. vbe2 says: May 17, 2012 4:08 PM

    Kind of think that if he had been a first round pick rather than an UDFA, he’d have made a different decision.

  4. steeelfann says: May 17, 2012 4:13 PM

    Sissies.

    All about freedom. You know the risks of all sports.

    Football
    Skiing
    Basketball
    Hockey
    Baseball
    Ice Skating
    Lacrosse
    Rugby
    Gol……….nah, not golf
    Soccer

    We have a free country and you can purse what activities you want to, whether amateur or professional. You are not forced to do so, it is your choice. Be responsible for your choices, be accountable. Quit looking for handouts from employers, from the government, from hard working people.

    Get some backbone. Be thankful for your free choices. Quit sticking your hand out. Live with what you have chosen to do. Quit acting dumb.

  5. bearsrulepackdrool says: May 17, 2012 4:16 PM

    He wouldn’t have made it anyway, if he’s scared.

  6. addict2sport says: May 17, 2012 4:18 PM

    I think the odds of making the team as an UFA were more scary than being concussed. Good decision. Pro football obviously ain’t for him.

  7. mox19380 says: May 17, 2012 4:21 PM

    based on this guys personal history it sounds like he made a smart decision. being concussed by a bump in the shower is a bad sign when you plan on entering a league where the bumps are exponentially worse

  8. spartan822 says: May 17, 2012 4:22 PM

    “It’s definitely scary,” Sweat said. “I hear all the things about concussions, what happened to Junior Seau, it’s scary the repercussions that can happen because of a concussion, and it’s just something that I didn’t want to risk.”

    I’m amazed at how many people automatically assume that concussions had something to do with Seau killing himself. And the media isn’t helping by perpetuating that idea without any real evidence. We really don’t know why he did it. He may have just been depressed.

    I’m not saying this kid is making the wrong decision. Given his history, maybe it’s for the best.

  9. doe22us says: May 17, 2012 4:25 PM

    A lot of these players dont have the mental nor academic aptitude to make good, sound, informed decisions. Big ups Andrew, great choice and besides its his freaking decision anyway.

  10. yssupasigninnamnotyep says: May 17, 2012 4:37 PM

    He didn’t pursue the NFL because he knows he’s not good enough…period.

  11. xxwhodatxx says: May 17, 2012 4:41 PM

    Just shut up.

  12. starfan79 says: May 17, 2012 4:42 PM

    I’m glad he stepped away if he felt that way. Better now than later claiming he didn’t know hitting your head could leave lasting effects and try to sue the NFL.

  13. silentshimmy says: May 17, 2012 4:51 PM

    As my future father-in-law would say
    “That’s why girls don’t play the game coach”.

    But honestly it sounds like he made a good choice. With his concussion history I can completely see why he might be a little scared of hurting himself in the long run.
    Good for him doing what he felt was the best for him and not letting the stereotypical male bravado possibly get him really hurt.

  14. finleye says: May 17, 2012 4:56 PM

    Good for him. Gotta know when to hold ‘em & when to fold ‘em.

  15. longdrive2011 says: May 17, 2012 4:56 PM

    “”I have a long life ahead of me and I think I’m a lot more than just a football player””
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    The first part is presumptuous, however if he really is jazzed about being a lawyer then the second part makes sense.

    Reflecting on the quote “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”, I have to think I would give up a few years to be an NFL player so long as I could make a few million.

  16. bigredscouting says: May 17, 2012 4:57 PM

    No problem with this decision. I’ll never have an issue with decisions like these. These men put their body’s and unfortunately their minds on the line. Honestly, it takes just as much courage to say no to the game then it does to accept the risks. Good for him.

  17. lolb23 says: May 17, 2012 4:59 PM

    Ohio State kid. He was cheating all through college and realized that kind of thing doesn’t fly in the NFL, so he decided instead to stay home and be a bouncer somewhere in some bar in Columbus.

  18. phillyforlife says: May 17, 2012 4:59 PM

    spartan822 says:
    I’m amazed at how many people automatically assume that concussions had something to do with Seau killing himself. And the media isn’t helping by perpetuating that idea without any real evidence. We really don’t know why he did it. He may have just been depressed.
    —————————————————-
    Exactly, No has ever connected depression with concussions but they have connected it with being out of the spot light, irrelevant and not ever getting a multimillion dollar signing bonus again.

  19. hedleykow says: May 17, 2012 5:03 PM

    Desk in an air conditioned office all of a sudden didn’t seem so bad. (Minicamp must have sucked.)

  20. Deb says: May 17, 2012 5:49 PM

    If that’s how he feels, he made the right choice. It requires extraordinary commitment to compete at the professional level in any sport, especially a difficult, violent sport where someone younger and faster is always fighting to take your place. But no one should be using Seau’s death as a catalyst for making these decisions. Suicide is a complex issue, and football may have played only a small role–if any–in his tragedy.

  21. pigskin28 says: May 17, 2012 6:11 PM

    I work for a large Corporation. We work on the third floor with stairs and one elevator. You are not to use the elevator during fire, but tjis wheel chair bound guy works with us. So because of the law he can’t be put on yhe first floor, cause we can’t discriminate. So in a major emergency someone else has to put their life on the line. Ridiculous. Same as concussions. If this guy was chosen fi rst rnd he would have undoubtedly taken the chance then sue even after entering the League knowing his susceptability..(sp?). How many crrently suing the league had similar circumstances? Of course the league can’t just exclude them cause that’s discrimination

  22. brownyelf says: May 17, 2012 6:34 PM

    lolb23, way to make an uniformed comment. he’s going to law school. he already has full rides offered from multiple schools. yeah, a bouncer

  23. chazatlas says: May 17, 2012 6:47 PM

    Wasn’t going to make the Brown’s roster anyway.

  24. darthhitman77 says: May 17, 2012 6:59 PM

    WHO?

  25. cfos00 says: May 17, 2012 8:25 PM

    phillyforlife says: May 17, 2012 4:59 PM

    spartan822 says:
    I’m amazed at how many people automatically assume that concussions had something to do with Seau killing himself. And the media isn’t helping by perpetuating that idea without any real evidence. We really don’t know why he did it. He may have just been depressed.
    —————————————————-
    Exactly, No has ever connected depression with concussions but they have connected it with being out of the spot light, irrelevant and not ever getting a multimillion dollar signing bonus again.
    ———————————–

    Wrong. Concussions and the associated brain damage have been definitely connected to dementia and depression. And your brain does not recover like a lot of the rest of your body.

    I’m amazed by the comments here. Ripping the kid for wanting to live a normal life, where he has a short term memory or have brain damage is suddenly something to be ashamed of? Are you kidding? Concussions get easier to get once you get one, and trying to play pro ball now sounds like it’d be basically guaranteeing that he ends up in a bad place from what he said about the shower incident. Would anyone here really want that for themselves, or better yet, would you want your kid to make that choice for a couple years of a few hundred thousand, which is what he’d make at the bottom of a roster? I highly doubt many would say yes.

    It really sounds like a lot of internet-tough-guy talk without any real thought behind it here.

  26. nflfan87 says: May 17, 2012 10:20 PM

    @phillyforlife:

    You’re 100% right. Jealous internet tough guys that assume this guy doesn’t have better options than being a bouncer because low paying back breaking jobs are all they’ve ever been offered in life. Then they try to equate their job with being an NFL player with a college degree and call these guys who would destroy them mano y mano and could do their own crappy job for another 50 years longer without complaining half as much as they do.

    Where at in Philly you from? I’m from Conshy.

  27. randomcommenter says: May 17, 2012 10:49 PM

    Sweat was on scholarship. His eyes will probably pop out of his head when he gets his first ever tuition bill at law school. Then he’ll be back like Myron Rolle who wants to be a Doctor.

  28. maximusprime107 says: May 17, 2012 10:53 PM

    I was going to make a snide remark until I kept reading and saw he’s had a history with concussions. Good for him

  29. covercorner says: May 18, 2012 12:01 AM

    I hope all of the former players sue their schools. They worked for free and got hurt.

  30. warrenpeacephotography says: May 18, 2012 2:51 AM

    What the hell is wrong with the people calling this guy names for making a smart decision about his own life? He’s a sissy with no backbone? WTF? I would hope they all get concussions to see what it’s like, but based on their thinking skills, I suspect they already have.

    Good for Mr. Sweat, I wish the best for him!

  31. deathtoromo says: May 18, 2012 12:08 PM

    I’m sure sucking and having no chance of ever making the active roster played a part also.

  32. helloanonymousxoxo says: May 19, 2012 12:58 PM

    Andrew Sweat made his own decision based on his health. I think that is extremely brave and it has nothing to do with being afraid. Not many people could set aside their dream like that. I’m proud of him and to be honest, he doesn’t need to NFL for success. Andrew will succeed in anything he attempts in the future. He’s not just an elite athlete. He is brilliant; an extremely intelligent guy with over a 3.9gpa that will make well for himself no matter what he chooses to do next. And for all you putting him down, he’s most likely going to be the attorney or financial advisor saving your @ss someday.

    Proud of you A. Sweat!

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