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.