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. Hillers87

    I know the kid and he has the talent and potential to success at football but it is just not worth it. He will be set working at his dad's law firm. He made the right choice...he will end up having his health, a family, a successful career and enough money to live a very comfortable life.

    May 16, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. martin

    took him 3 concussions. it took me 2. neither football, soccer heading, or boxing are brain friendly

    May 16, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dd

    Football is more dangerous than cigarettes! Why isn't it banned?

    May 16, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths per year... what are you talking about?!

      May 16, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • caw

      Because local governments as well as the media outlet make BILLIONS from football.

      May 17, 2012 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mich Grad

    From a Wolverine to a Buckeye, I say good decision, young man. The risk-reward ratio was definitely stacked against him for trying for the NFL. Deadspin's comments are ridiculous, and sound like a 9 year old saying "I'm going to go to the NFL and be rich!" Sure you are, kid. Deadspin probably doesn't appreciate that his odds of even making the team were low, and his odds of ever playing lower still. If he did make the team, he would likely make the league minimum, and the average football career lasts 3 years. And in those 3 years he would put his head through countless more bone-crunching collisions in practice (likely on the practice squad), putting his health (and future earnings potential) at significant risk. Deadspin should stick to what it's good at, which is... which is...

    May 16, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • CM

      If he wouldn't play, he wouldn't get hit. And in those 3 years he would make more than he would in 8 years at a top intro legal salary... he can pay for law school out of pocket. Not that he would need to because he would probably get hired by anyone in Ohio just for the PR of having a former Buckeye/Brown.

      May 17, 2012 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. kg

    Anyone who can't understand why he made this decision has likely never suffered a serious concussion. I have and having your once bright mind sent into a complete tailspin is an eye opener. The headaches were brutal, all day every day for months, but the most disturbing moments were not being able to remember the names of your family members, not being able to remember how to get to the grocery store, not remembering why you're at the grocery store once you finally find it... simple things that almost everyone takes for granted suddenly become monumental tasks. I know what that's like and I wouldn't play football either. All it takes is one more hit and your brain is damaged for good. It's far better to bow out with your mind intact than be rich and not be able to remember anything or think clearly enough to manage your life.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. Arty0848

    Sounds like a stand up guy who is making good decisions for himself. That, and he went to college and actually learned something besides a playbook. Being a lawyer is something he'll have for life, the NFL stands for "Not For Long"

    May 17, 2012 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. Mark

    I think its time we started doing more research on helmets.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jack Buechner

    the players today are in the weight room at least 5 or 6 hours a week. Personal trainers are the norm, not the exception. Highly productive Diets and sports drinks (and I am not talking about HGH or roids) have become available to Joe Dokes on even a 9 man team in the upper plains.. Training films are available along with a myriad of weight and stretching devices. Offensive & defensive linemen carry 40 pounds more than the "hefty" kids of 20 years ago but the defensive backs travel at sprinters' speeds before the contact. The "new hi-tech" equipment actually is a negative because it creates an illusion of invulnerability. The game has changed. My prediction is that it has perhaps 25 years.

    May 17, 2012 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mr

    We need to take football out of collegiate sports. Concussions and pedophiles

    May 17, 2012 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Brach Thomas

      Former Ohio State linebacker Andrew Sweat makes a tackle against Purdue.

      May 17, 2012 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  10. jamessavik

    There is a great deal of tradition and culture wrapped up in football. It is a uniquely American game.

    Team sports teach many valuable life lessons- lessons that a lot of the panty-waste losers here might have greatly benefited from.

    Anyone with the skills to play are welcome to try. If you don't want to, nobody is forcing you to. Don't destroy something that's great because you are a loser and can't stand greatness.

    May 17, 2012 at 1:22 am | Report abuse |
    • really not necessary

      the man had three concussions

      he is not destroying anything

      he is choosing something else, you do not need to call him a loser for choosing something else

      May 17, 2012 at 4:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      James, I don't know that anyone is really trying to destroy football. But the safety level needs to be ratcheted up a bit, don't you think? The evidence is pretty overwhelming that multiple concussions can cause some catastrophic long-term physical damages and destroy lives. Football isn't going away; have no worries about that. But it might be good to put a few more rules in play that make it less like gladitorial games. More safety and more sportsmanship would make football better, pure and simple. And btw, calling someone a "loser" who "can't stand greatness" because they believe differently from you, James, is pretty silly...by definition they're almost certainly the opposite. 🙂

      May 17, 2012 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. JW

    Andrew, you did the right thing. I love the sport of football but I don't want to see any of these guys (included my arch enemies, the Cowboys) permanently hurt or disabled for my pleasure. Those helmets will never be able to stop the jarring of the brain that takes place inside the skull. There's just no way to stop that.

    Note: Cowboys fans, sorry about that dig, but I'm still haunted by that catch that Drew Pearson made against my Vikings back in 1974. LOL!!!!!!

    May 17, 2012 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
  12. PaulWS

    Wish the guy the best and all but c'mon, there was about .00001% chance he was going to make it in the first place.

    May 17, 2012 at 6:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. William

    good luck, Andrew....sounds like a wise decision. btw, appears "deadspin" is an NFL insider wannabe. If he knew what he was talking about he would understand there are plenty of undrafted kids with strong potential to make teams. Good to see you put him in his place.

    May 17, 2012 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. gee

    Probably one of the smartest decisions he will make during the next 10 years,

    May 17, 2012 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
  15. bluebird1

    GOOD FOR HIM!!! He's listening to his body and looking into/hoping for a healthy future -- NOT counting $$$ that may or may not come his way.

    May 17, 2012 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
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