Broncos defensive back Su'a Cravens admits that he told teammates last year that he was retiring from football, but Cravens insists he’s not a quitter.
Cravens, traded to Denver from Washington this week, explained to Mike Klis of 9News.com that the lingering effects of a concussion influenced his actions and decisions during the 2017 season.
“I was going through some personal issues with my family and I didn’t feel like myself,’’ Cravens told Klis. “I did tell my teammates I was going to retire but I never officially retired.”
After a full medical evaluation, it became clear that Cravens was dealing with head trauma.
“The Redskins brought me in, they told me they wanted me to get checked out, make sure I was all right,” Cravens said. “I go to a doctor and he tells me I’m going through something I didn’t even know I was going through. He said this is the reason why you feel this way and you’re in no condition to be making these decisions because of this and I guarantee if you rehab and get yourself better, you won’t be feeling this way.
“Once I got cleared in December, it was like I was a completely different person. Looking back at myself I’m thinking, that’s crazy. I thought I was just messed up but come to find out, I was going through something I wasn’t even aware of.’’
His former team wasn’t willing to wait for Cravens to get healthy; Washington placed him on the reserve/left squad list before Cravens could return from a four-week leave. His new team wanted him, obviously. And Cravens is now preparing to make an impact on the Broncos defense; he says that he’ll play strong safety in the base package and linebacker in third-down packages.
Most importantly for Cravens, he insists he’ll be playing football in 2018 — despite the perception that he quit on Washington and a rumor that he quit while at USC.
“People have their own truths and can make their own decisions,’’ Cravens said. “There is a narrative that people have that I quit, I quit on my team, that I don’t love football – that is completely forged and wrong.
“Everybody has the right to make their own decision, but my truth, I never quit on my team, I never abandoned anybody. I don’t know where they’re coming from with ‘he quit at USC.’ I don’t know where that came from, that was made up. That’s a narrative that’s wrong.”
Still, Cravens seems to be acutely aware of the risks of football. For now, he’s willing to continue to accept them.
“Football is a violent sport and it can be scary but I know what I’m signing up for,’’ Cravens said. “I think we all do. I’m well aware of my situation and this is my decision to continue to play. I’m not going to second-guess my decision to go out there and play. I’m planning on making plays and being the same physical player I’ve always been and I’ll live with the consequences because this is my choice to do so. Every man, every woman, they have a choice they can make. This is my choice.’’
If he plays like he did in 2016, the Broncos will be happy he made that choice. But the possibility of another concussion — and possibly another decision to stop playing — will loom, especially if Cravens plays with the kind of physicality he intends to display.