Running back Tyler Varga was willing to speak out last year, when he didn’t want to take a medication the Colts offered in the wake of a concussion.
And now that he’s retired from the NFL after one season, he says stories like his are going to become more and more common.
“People shouldn’t be surprised when they hear about players retiring young,” Varga told Bob Kravitz of WTHR. “You’re seeing it more and more often these days.
“Players are far more educated now about the risks involved in playing football. Guys are more aware of the risks involved.”
For Varga, the risk was a drug which had side effects he feared, which included possible psychotic behavior. The Colts offered it in the wake of his concussion, but after researching, he chose to decline the offer.
“In the end, you just have to weigh the risk versus reward, do a cost/benefit analysis, and I ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the risk,” Varga said. “I didn’t want to risk another big one [concussion] and having it impact my quality of life down the road. It was a difficult decision; it always is when you work so hard toward a goal and finally reach that goal, but after a long period of reflection, I felt like this was the best decision for my future.”
Varga laughed and said “I think I’ll take a pass on that one,” when asked if he trusted the league and its teams on the long-term effects of concussions.
The NFL has at least shown some interest in changing that perception, farming out controversial Dr. Elliott Pellman last week, removing someone viewed as a symbol of years of concussion-denial. And Varga’s well-prepared for his future without football, with a Yale degree in hand and likely the ability to make a living beyond what he’d have in a few more years of playing in the NFL.
And he considers himself one of the lucky ones.