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. TriXen

    Good decision, sir. I'm sure you'll thank yourself for it later in life.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • DK

      The only thing I would recommend is that you don't work for your father or family. Family business aren't what they portray themselves to be.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JJ

    Since CNN has evidently opened this even to public "opinions", I'll add mine to the pile of crap that I've read so far. Or most of it has been crap. A few rational individuals. In my "opinion", t-bone is a NFL wannabe who can't understand that not everyone thinks football is the end-all-be-all of life. So some kid took a few hard hits, fell in the shower and realized that those hard hits could potentially ruin the rest of his life. Is he an idiot for deciding that he'd rather go into the family business? If his dad owned a lumber yard would you be so up in arms? I don't care if he could have been a multi-millionaire of if he'd have just earned a nice wage. Doesn't matter if he ends up having to spend it all on medical bills. And who says he'll end up in enormous debt from law school? Not everyone has to borrow tons of money. I say good for him.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cgar380

      I agree JJ. An individual made a decision what to do with his own life, regardless of what others think is best. Good for him. I wish him the very best.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • t-bone

      T-Bone was just pointing out that it is a non story.
      It is a story if someone who was drafted high enough to be guaranteed a roster spot and a large salary gives it up to protect their health.
      This is like you saying you "chose" not to run for President of the USA because you didnt want the Secret Service folks following you around every day.
      This guy was going to be a NFL player just as much as you were going to be President.
      It was just a stupid story for CNN to run.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Teri Cuocci

    First off, let me say "I LOVE FOOTBALL". But I have to applaude this man for his decision. The issue of health over fame and fortune is commendable especially with the recent issues of how some teams play (and get awarded) to maim other players. I hope Mr. Sweat earns his milions representing players who become injured playing against individuals without a conscious.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bleedingheart

    Smart move, no doubt about it.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. WolfRayet

    I agree with Sweat. Screwing yourself up just so some deadhead football fan can have his game of the week and your a veggie at 40 is crap. I know a Pro football player who played in Superbowl I and whose all busted up, he can't do anything and is always in pain and there's not much that can be done about it, big friggin deal.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rhope

    Good decision. It is a personal decision and everyone who vilifies him for it is wrong: he made a personal decision to play football; he made a personal decision to quit football – end of the story

    May 16, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Andrew

    Dude must have a tough life... get free money from the Browns, then go to law school on his daddy's dime before being handed a job at his daddy's firm when he graduates.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cgar380

      The money from the Browns is not free. It comes at a cost. A cost that this individual decided not to take. Good for him. Also, don't hate on his dad for being successful. Any father worth their salt helps their child succeed in life, as I am sure you will one day for your child(ren).

      May 16, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • rick

      jealousy is an ugly emption

      May 16, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Looks like he puts the work in to get what he deserves, unlike the 99% ers

      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.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jOE

    That's absolutely ridiculous. Why would you not go to NFL, play a year or three get all that money, retire and then use that money to pay for law school. He must be a 1%er or not able to make it in NFL

    May 16, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      "My dad has a very successful lawfirm"

      Yeah, daddy is paying for his law school and guaranteeing him a job before his first day of law school.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duane - St. Pete FLA

      i want TO BE A 1%er.....it's really funny to hear people buy into Obama's "blame the rich crap" but it's also sad. people work to get rich then you all bash them....it's the American Dream to get rich.....remember all you libs, Obama is a 1%er too. If Obama were to tax all the 1%er's at 50% (which would not be a good idea) it STILL would not make even a tiny bit of difference in the deficit....none. so way all the rich bashing? just makes all of you sound jealous....

      May 16, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • rick

      he doesn't want that additional risk to his body. why is it so hard to understand?

      May 16, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RichWW2

    He probably already has CTE and the brain damage issues and will suffer later in life. The problem doesn't come from playing in the NFL for 4 years, the problem comes the 15 years kids play football before their brains are fully developed.

    May 16, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • rick

      these are human missles running at each other

      May 16, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Barbara

    Good role model. Health is most important; I know.

    May 16, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. 18E

    The right choice. furthermore it is extraordinary to see a starting college ball player having the grades and test scores, to get in to law or grad school. Well done.

    May 16, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Scott

    You smart smart kid, you !

    May 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. t-bone

    Its not.
    CNN though made it everyones business by making it news.

    May 16, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • rick

      and you read it

      May 16, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. CJ

    What a silly story. He didn't pick a carrier over football...he realized he wasn't physically competent to play football. That continuing to try would be futile.

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

    this guy sucked at football anyway, never would have made it in the NFL

    May 16, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
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