Ohio State linebacker choosing career over concussions
Former Ohio State linebacker Andrew Sweat makes a tackle against Purdue.
May 16th, 2012
11:44 AM ET

Ohio State linebacker choosing career over concussions

A former Ohio State linebacker said he is giving up his chance to make it in the NFL and instead will go to law school because of his concerns about concussions.

Andrew Sweat suffered three concussions while he played as a Buckeye in the Big Ten, including a serious one in the middle of his final year on the field for The Ohio State University.

But he began to feel better earlier this year, and, as an undrafted free agent, had a chance to try to nab a spot on the Cleveland Browns' roster.  As he prepared to head to the team's camp last week, he slipped and fell in the shower, causing the concussion symptoms to return.

It appears that was the final straw for Sweat, who said on Twitter he decided he had to choose his health over a possible shot in the NFL.

"When I fell, it scared me," Sweat told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Football is not worth my health. It's really important to me that I'm able to have a family and a life after football. Football is a great game, but when you have a concussion like that, it's not worth it."

Sweat's decision might not normally garner too much attention. He was listed as 31st on the ranking of other linebackers who were entering the NFL draft. But it comes as the NFL weathers bounty scandals and concerns regarding rough hits, as well as allegations and lawsuits by more than 1,700 NFL players claiming that the National Football League hid the dangers of concussions from them. The attention to the  concussion issue has continued to grow and was again back at the forefront of discussion after NFL star Junior Seau committed suicide.

Sweat said that Seau's death and all of the controversy swirling around the NFL right now didn't play a huge part in his decision. It was more about how he personally felt and his own concern about whether it was worth it to risk another concussion.

"Sometimes people get lost in the game of football. They don't think about injuries, and they ignore things," he told the Cleveland newspaper. "I enjoy too many things. I'm too well-rounded to have critical damage to my brain and body."

Now, instead of hitting quarterbacks, Sweat will be hitting the books and preparing to enter his first year of law school. Sweat graduated from Ohio State with a degree in finance, was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten Conference selection, a four-time OSU Scholar-Athlete, and interned at Merrill Lynch, according to his Ohio State player bio.

It's clear that Sweat's got the brains to do fine with a career outside of the NFL. And while he's excited about the new chapter in his life, he is none too happy with how a few blogs, both legal and sports-related, took him to task over his decision.

Elie Mystal, a former lawyer, wrote on the blog Above the Law that he was posting about Sweat to try to help him "avoid making what could be the biggest mistake of his life."

Mystal suggested that Sweat should try out for the Browns instead of going to law school.

"I can’t know if Sweat’s decision is being partially motivated by all the media attention focused on the long-term health consequences of playing in the NFL. But I’d bet all the money in my pocket that Sweat has not been paying attention to the media coverage of the long-term professional and financial damage that can be done by going to law school…" Mystal wrote.

The former attorney also  mocked the schools to which Sweat had been accepted, saying they were "more like the Cleveland Browns of law schools" and begging him to reconsider his decision.  According to the Columbus Dispatch, Sweat was accepted at Pittsburgh, Duquesne, West Virginia, Florida and the University of Miami.

"It’s not like law school is going anywhere! Andrew Sweat can have his cake and eat it too," Mystal wrote. " He can take the short-term potential upside of trying to have an NFL career, and then go to law school when he’s done. Hell, he might even do better on the LSAT, since he evidently took the test while trying to play Big Ten football and suffering from concussions."

The well-known sports blog Deadspin agreed.

"It is, I suppose, a little easy to forget that NFL players make a lot of money. Yes, they subject their bodies and brains to untold ravages; yes, they're exploited by money-hungry owners; yes, they're largely deprived (unfairly) of the education and training needed to succeed after football—but they make a lot of money," the article on Deadspin said. "So, Sweat, listen up and learn that NFL players, as far as exploitation goes, have a nicer deal than graduates of second- and third-tier law schools, who leave with lots of debt and similarly scrambled brains."

Sweat responded to their concerns, tweeting that he was going to be just fine with a likely job in his father's law firm.

soundoff (200 Responses)
  1. fred

    He obviously is having a lapse in his senses. Most men wanting to be attorneys would play a year in the NFL and then go to Law School on their tab after suing the NFL for the concussions being their fault. All kidding aside though, good for him not to give in to the pressures of fame, money and that lifestyle. Enjoy mediocrity.

    May 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. CM

    Regardless of football, he shouldn't go to law school. I guess if his rich dad can hook him up with a law firm job though, what has he got to lose? It was easily the biggest mistake of my life.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. brett432

    Couldn't get into a top ten law school?.... like the University of Michigan...

    May 16, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jason

      @Brett – You realize hundreds of folks get denied from top ten law schools? And rankings are derived in part by how many people you reject. So want a high ranking? (a) attract a lot of people and (b) reject most of them ... fact is, law schools with high rankings don't give you a better education – more people to network with, perhaps some more prestige to some blind elites, but has nothing to do with whether you become a good lawyer.

      May 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • chinaman03

      ivy law schools are overrated. i know personally 2 great guys who are pretty successful graduated from humble law schools. you may get great connections at the ivy schools (for most sons of somebody important go there.) but that's about it. when schools are done for, it's all about the skills in your blood.

      and oh, that's why most of them are pretty nasty blood suckers, including my friends.

      May 16, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • G_Brett

      Obama went to a top 10 law school and he didn't know the Supreme Court had the last say!

      May 16, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. true story

    Unless he's going to a Top 10 law school, this guy will be working at Starbucks in 3 years – IF he beats out the other 1000's of applicants with worthless JD's & MBA's from low ranked schools.

    Simply supply vs. demand which allows employers to select candidates primarily from the top schools, leaving everyone else fighting for scraps (and Starbucks).

    May 16, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Anthony

    The counter to every cranky attorney telling a kid not to go to law school is, "My Dad has a firm, and I have a job waiting." True, those schools aren't all T-14, but if the job is there, then he has no reason not to go for it.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Emily

      He's a Buckeye and evidently one of the token few with a brain. He'll get his law degree and have a job in Columbus. He's smarter to choose law than concussions, for sure.

      May 16, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rich

    1. Get law degree.
    2. Pass bar exam.
    3. Stay in hotels.
    4. Fall in shower.
    5. Sue.
    6. WIN!

    May 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Sam

    So lessee....he's quitting football now - after THREE concussions - in order to go to law school. Sure he could always take the Browns job and play pro ball.....then take another concussion that might not only end his playing career, but do enough damage that he couldn't go t law school afterwards.

    His choice....his life....I think he made the one he's happy with. End of story.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dan

      exactly. The idea of playing with his grandkids when he's 55 probably outweighs the possibility of being a millionaire who struggles with depression and brain injuries at 45.

      May 16, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • rick

      most are bankrupt within 2 or 3 years of retirement

      May 16, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Donald in CA

    Law school over a life time of permanent headaches, good call.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rajiv

      I thought a law career was a lifetime of permanent headaches, pfff

      May 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Eli

    The kid's dad has a successful law firm. Assuming he can pass the bar he's pretty well set up to make $250k each year for 40 years. I don't think he'll be hurting for money. He'll have his health too.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Rajeev

    He played D1 football, which is an accomplishment in itself. Basically, he knew he wasn't good enough to make a 52 man roster, so he decided to fall back on something else. Too bad the concussions made him the fail at a profession set around remembering things.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Sharky

    He can't find honest work?

    May 16, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. jimbo

    Law school? Now that will definitely cause brain damage.

    May 16, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. stan2012veg

    Has anyone studied the effects of steroids on these athletes? Could the excessive use of steroids be causing the problems and not concussions?

    May 16, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Marlon

      And that the one reason he needs to go to school because you can't take that education away from a man who earned it. At least he can be able to sed his brain instead of getting it caved in!

      May 18, 2012 at 5:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. K$

    Law is a life of headaches.

    May 16, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. andrewr770

    Smart to be concerned with his health. Stupid to go to law school.

    May 16, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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