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.

[tweet https://twitter.com/asweat42/status/201889708035411968%5D

"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.

[tweet https://twitter.com/asweat42/status/202140621274750976%5D

soundoff (200 Responses)
  1. Phil

    That is a Purdue player in the the pic

    May 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mallory Simon, CNN News blog editor

      Thanks to you and @dc3219. Appreciate you pointing out, swapped out a photo and forgot to change the caption. Thanks for reading!

      May 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • smushed

      the guy making the tackle is from OSU, moron

      May 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • dpd

      Purdue player with the ball. Ohio State player making the takle.

      May 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • t-bone

      ....and he broke the tackle.
      Which is why this clown didnt get drafted.
      NFL Teams routinely invite everyone and anyone to camp for an evaluation.
      This guy is nothing special.

      Show me the coverage of the guy who was drafted in the top 4 rounds and then decided to quit to save his health.

      Never happen.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dc3219

    Go Mitt Romney!!!!

    May 16, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rhope

      "Go Mitt Romey"????????? You are on the wrong board buddy

      May 16, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Darkstar7

    The opposing player in the photo is actually Keith Carlos of Purdue, not Colorado.

    May 16, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Logic

    Good choice for him, but he was unlikely to make it in the NFL anyway. Of course if he did, he would have likely been fodder on special teams, so again, good choice. It will be (bigger) news if a drafted player passed on the NFL for another career.

    May 16, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. T

    Go for it, Andrew! One thing I've learned... don't take the advice of people who live in fear (the "you're gonna fail !" crowd). Especially that of strangers and stupid blogs. Do what's in your heart to do.

    May 16, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • t-bone

      ummmm... he wentto do what anyone in the country could do, become a lawyer.
      He gave up on the thing that actually takes talent.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Scott

    My hat is off to Andrew Sweat and his decision to walk away from the game he loves knowing that continuing to play could have long term effects on his life. Sweat was a true Buckeye. He played hard, did things the right way, and earned every Buckeye leaf he wore on his helmets. If he had played for the Browns, I would have had to root for them, and that would have been way too painful.

    Good luck, Buckeye.

    May 16, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Farty McCloud

    The only reason this isn't a tremendously stupid decision is that his father has a law firm.

    May 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      And that it is incredibly easy to get ANY job ANYWHERE near Columbus if you played for the Buckeyes. My roommates were Buckeye players, only one of which made it to the NFL – the rest had absolutely no problem finding more job offers than other well-studied students in difficult majors. Throw OSU football on his resume and he is golden anywhere near the state of Ohio (except Michigan of course)

      May 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joyce

    Thats the first Buckeye that I can say is smart. Good for him for putting his health first instead of the big bucks.
    Finally someone has enough sense in life besides it being money.

    GO BLUE

    May 16, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      The first Buckeye that you can say is smart? What about the 4 Nobel Laureates or the 9 Pulitzer Prize winners? Not to mention an extended list of well-accomplished Ohio State grads. Do your research before you let your love for Michigan spoil the minds of CNN readers....

      May 16, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tony

    Sweat didn't make his decision for the NFL, he didn't make his decision for bloggers, and sure as hell didn't make it for some embittered lawyer. He's made his decision for HIMSELF and his own well-being. It's not as if he's forcing anyone else to live by his decision.

    All the money in the world doesn't do a damned bit of good if you're not of sound mind and body to enjoy it.

    Good for you, Andrew, and the best of luck to you.

    May 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Smart move, Sweat

    He could have an NFL career converting to a long-snapper.

    His finance degree would go well with being a tax lawyer, though. The economy will always make them critical. All levels of business need them. The comment snobbery over law school echelons is humorous. Finance degree, law, CPA, actuary, etc... this kid will be golden.

    Best wishes to you, Andrew. You've got a bright future, ahead.

    May 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jon

    Nice, I took the LSAT with him.

    May 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jake

    Apparently these bloggers have never heard the expression, "If you've got your health, you've got everything." For anyone who's ever had a health scare, they know how true this is.

    May 16, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. oldguy68

    I can't believe what Mystal (a FORMER lawyer? Was she disbarred?) wrote. A person chooses long term health over a career -actually, possible career- in the NFL. What could be wrong with him?

    May 16, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. James Tressell

    He was invisible at tOSU and would've been invisible as a pro. He could still be a waterboy.

    May 16, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dave Hale

    Andrew, Good call–I played 5 seasons with the Bears '69-'73 DT- I know how hard the pros hit–only saw stars once!–In your case, you have ability to co something else significant. With five college educated kids doing well in life (and 13 grandkids, so far) there definitely is life after football ends!! For you, your career lasted through college-congrats! I just started taking social security next month-but am still in good/great health..6'7" 275 NOT mentally scrambled..Dave Hale

    May 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
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