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. devin

    what kind of athlete is this guy if he cannot even take a shower without falling over?

    May 16, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Hector Gonzalez

    Well done buddy! Good luck at law school

    May 16, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dave Banfield

    It is not like he is walking away from millions of dollars. He likely would not have made the roster. But good for him seems he knows his future.

    May 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. rockytony

    It is most refreshing to read of a college football player, from OSU of all places, actually capable of having a rational thought. Good luck to you lad. How sensible and wise. I am just sorry you weren't a baseball player.

    May 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. 300Cooper

    I respect your decision Sweat! Best of luck!! Go Bucks!!!

    May 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dan

    osu looks better putting someone in law school than the nfl

    May 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • t-bone

      Just what the country needs, an Ambulance chaser that cant even stand up in the shower.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rhobere

    considering the wealth of warnings saying that there are absolutely no careers in law and that its a waste of time nowadays, I'm thinking the concussions have already taken their tole.

    May 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blah Blah Blah

      Well that statement didn't make any sense

      May 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Learn to spell. And come to terms with the fact that it is his life and his choice to make. I would wager ten dollars that your opinion has almost zero weight in his life.

      May 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JK

    More like he doesn't have the chops to make it and he is giving up and going to law school, just sayin

    May 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. GK

    Good for him. In a world where too many professional sports players turn out to be nothing beyond the sport, this young man is looking for a future where he can have a long and happy career.

    May 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. kiki713

    very smart decision. why go for big bucks in the short-term when the long-term risk is major head trauma and a lifetime of physical issues? this is one smart buckeye.

    May 16, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. noel

    smart kid...

    May 16, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |

    so while a young kid can see the effects of what a concussion can do 1,700 other people could not and are trying to get money for their ignorance? these lawsuits are a joke

    May 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bob

    Nice to see someone reevaluate the situation and make the warrented changes. I bet he wanted to play in the NFL since he was in Pee Wee league. Good luck in law school.

    May 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Fab S.

    Andrew, you're a role model and may not even realize it. I hope you become a very successful attorney who can afford to watch football, into your old age, while sitting in your season ticket seats. You're ABSOLUTELY right, health trumps all, especially football.

    May 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jason

    As an OSU grad, and a newer lawyer, Mr. Sweat is a moron. He could play on the practice squad for 2 years and make more than the average lawyer will in 10. Moreover, he could save it all and pay for law school rather than finance it (waste of money).

    If i could do it all over again (and yes I have a decent lawyer job right now) I wouldnt, its a waste of time and money. Law schools are businesses now and they are mills...They should be stoppped.

    May 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dustin

      Some are stopping themselves and taking the lead on this, e.g. UC Hastings.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
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