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. Jeff K

    Sweat is sweet for the decision. Elie Mystal on daily basis proves the point that "those who can do, will do, and those who can't do-[write] about it" It is clear that Elie was not fit to practice law, but I mean Elie could not even teach law. I bet those are some proud parents.

    May 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. texasranger

    I bet he did not realize two things:
    1) how pathetic job market is for lawyers these days (especially for first-year graduates).
    2) how much more money you can make sitting on a bench as a second-stringer than even an average attorney at a white shoe firm (though you still get hit during practice).

    May 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • NIck K.

      We're not talking about Joe Schmoe going to law school here. Former Buckeyes do very well, professionally, once they finish their football careers.

      May 16, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • T-Bone

      Just ask Art Schlichter

      May 16, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mitch

    Very intelligent young man, good luck in law school!

    May 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cedar Rapids

    I cant believe the bloggers and people here saying 'forget your health, forget possible brain damage.....just think of the money!'

    May 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • t-bone

      Good idea.
      Give up millions of dollars to play a game based on what?
      Proof that concussions are the reason for all the players problems?
      There is no concrete proof.
      There are many many other factors that are the same across the board as well, Steroids?
      Depression from not being able to cope with not being the center of attention?
      Look at the 90% or more that played and made millions and never once suffered any symptoms of problems.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • ThaGerm

      T-bone, what you fail to realize about statistics is the LIE. You just showed us a perfect example. How many of the 90% of the players you mentioned suffered from more than 3 concussions and had ongoing concussion symptoms? I would guess about 2% of that 90%; conversely, I bet that of the 10% that do suffer permanent brain damage about 80% had similar issues as Sweat. That puts him in a MUCH HIGHER RISK CATEGORY THAN YOU DESCRIBED,but as I said, statistics do lie. Don't argue with me, take statistics class and your professor will back me up!

      May 16, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • t-bone

      Statistics do lie.
      And he IS in a much higher category to suffer due to past concussions.
      Which is exactly why this is a dumb article.
      Lets see someone who has talent and hasnt suffered concussions quit.
      THAT would be a story.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. t-bone

    Nice Try.
    Had this guy had enough talent to warrant being drafted i guarantee you he wouldnt have said no to the NFL's millions.
    He's just another guy who would have ended up on the practice squad getting paid diddly for being a tackling dummy.
    Still waiting for that first guy to stand up and give up the noney due to concussion concerns.
    This guy wouldnt have even made the team so he doesnt count.

    May 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ball-jingles

      do you even know how much money the practice squad earns? probably two to three times more than what you make boss. there are a lot of people who would give up everything to try and play in the nfl and to be on the practice squad, so to say he isn't good enough makes you sound stupid. he graduated from one of the best schools in the country from one of the best football programs in the country....what have you done turd?

      May 16, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. radman41

    It's interesting to read what some money hungry people say. However, if Sweat has his brains like fried eggs, how much can he enjoy his money . Better to be a clear headed, but struggling lawyer (?at his father's law firm) than to be an addled 35 year old who doesn't know how to tie his shoes or manage all his money.

    May 16, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • t-bone

      "35 year old who doesn't know how to tie his shoes or manage all his money"
      That doesnt come from head trauma.
      That comes from Colleges giving people with zero education diplomas just so they will play football there.
      These people would have been dumb as rocks regardless of whether they played football or not.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. scared for future

    Would he have had this same "revelation" if he hadn't fallen in the shower? So it was okay for him to disregard the previous three concussions when he wanted to try out for the Browns, but now that he has symptoms again he doesn't want to play? Sounds to me like he knows he wouldn't have made the team and is looking for an easy out.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Trav0

    Here's the part most people seem to not realize. He was an undrafted free agent meaning that he would likely not make the team and be on the practice squad. If you're on the practice squad all season you make around $90K. Even if he did make the team the league minimum for rookies is in the neighborhood of $400K. Good money yes, but he's not forgoing a multi-year multi-million dollar contract. The NPV of his football career is definitely not that much more than a guaranteed job at daddy's law firm.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. t-bone

    What is absolutely ridiculous is that every person out there seems to think that to play football is an automatic sentence to bad health.
    What a crock.
    everything has its dangers and the danger of getting fat and contracting type 2 diabietes sitting on your rear blogging is more likely than head trauma over an eight year career.
    Just ask the 90% of players who never experienced a single issue after football.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jdd

    His critics seem to think that he has an obligation to pursue a football career because he has the talent to do so. Whether his health concerns are legitimate or not is irrelevant. It's his choice as to what vocation he pursues. He seems pretty comfortable with his decision which is all that really matters.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • t-bone

      You are correct.
      It is his choice.
      But CNN made it relevant to our opinion by making it a story.
      No one woulkd have had an opinion or even cared if it hadnt been put up as news.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pat

    Good decision Mr. Sweat. Health and wellness trump money. As a former college player, albeit a backup kicker, I understand how it can be tough to let go of football. It was hard for me even though I didn't even start. Even being a kicker has left me with injuries, back, foot, and even a concussion (martial arts added to this). So, stick to your guns and do what you want. Football is just a game after all. Do something productive and fulfilling (I am sure people will comment on the worth of lawyers).

    May 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • t-bone

      Go get me a towel.
      Kicker...... Give me a break.
      We respected the cheerleaders more than the kicker.
      ....... and you were the "Backup"? thats funny.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. beelzabarber

    It wasn't the concussions that stopped him, it was the thought of playing in/for Cleveland.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mike

    Law school? REALLY? Law school....

    There are already way too many damn law students and young lawyers out there. Society doesn't need them...all the good lawyer jobs are help by the old farts and they're not going anywhere anytime soon.. And good luck finding a young lawyer that isn't self loathing and unhappy with their career choice. Pick something that isn't a degree-factory.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. t-bone

    Went from chasing QB's to chasing Ambulances.
    What a loser.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      t-bone, it sounds to me like YOU'VE had a few concussions. Who are you to tell this guy what's best for him and his health?

      May 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • t-bone

      His health is already lacking.
      The Browns would have dumped him as soon as they got wind of his inability to keep from banging his head.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. MaProfessional

    The tweet from Mr. Sweat regarding his "good setup" at his Dad's very successful law firm is somewhat arrogant. I hope he appreciates the fact that he has a choice between the NFL or Law School; A choice that many of his peers will never have. Especially....knowing that after he graduates from Law School, a lucrative opportunity will be waiting for him at his Dad's firm. Perhaps his father should not make it easy for him. Make him "pound the pavement", network, interview and land that first job himself. Learn what it is like out there in the real world....further builds the man and his character.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
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