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. flyboy7588

    Players have gotten too big and too fast to consider the game safe anymore.

    May 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mikeZ

    Good for you!, don't expect your coach or teams to watch out for your health, since big plays and big hits are big business. You have to watch out for yourself. Good luck Andrew!!!

    May 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Andrew T

    @Arizona Buckeye

    Wrong, he signed a contract. All players sign with teams before going to camp. It's a violation of the CBA to have a player in camp when they aren't under contract. He signed a contract, and received a signing bonus. He may have not received a roster bonus, or any salary pay, but he received money in the form of his signing bonus.

    May 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gator

    Um, Florida is one of the top law schools in the country. Cleveland Browns??? I think not!

    May 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • charles

      Ranked 48 out of around 200. one of the best? Depends how expansive you define "best".

      May 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Arizona Buckeye

    @Andrew – thanks for the info – I stand corrected.

    May 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. TRH

    I find it so funny that people can possibly suggest they know what life decisions are best for another human being they don't even know. Best of luck to a fellow Buckeye!

    May 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SlipperySlope

    Glad he's taking his health seriously and I'm glad he wasn't seriously hurt but the picture of him slipping and falling in the shower is priceless.

    May 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Buckeye am I, too!

    Fellow Buckeye, you make me proud! Way to use your education to make an intelligent decision instead of being driven forward in your life by money!

    May 16, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Troy

    He's white. Enough said.

    May 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pull back the curtain

    Another unsuccessful lawyer dissatisfied with his profession...blah blah blah. The kid made the right decision.

    May 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Allison

    I ask this as someone who is *not* a football fan but what does the NFL and its minions have against players who make academic choices instead of opting to play in their league? Is it some sort of macho BS to think that a good football player can't have a brain or can't be interested in other pursuits? The same thing was done to Myron Rolle when he accepted his Rhodes scholarship and deferred entry into the NFL as doing so was seen as a negative by that organization. I wonder what football Hall Of Famer and current Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page has to say about all of this.

    May 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dee

    I guess he finally figured it out that football is a dangerous sport and there is a possibility of serious injury...hummm

    May 16, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. maria

    I am glad he choose it the right career ,good luck in your future , and of course you are going to make enough money !

    May 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. pacman357

    I've survived both a handful of concussions as well as law school. Go with the concussions.

    j/k If I have learned anything in my life, it is go with your gut. If your gut says law school, then follow it.

    May 16, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. charles

    Well, he wont be that successful in law school unless he learns to use a comma.

    May 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
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