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. Flagfoot

    Flag football is where its at ya'll!

    May 17, 2012 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    I teach at the business school from which Andrew graduated. Smart kid and smart choice. I would like to think that "Deadspin" and the other blogger were being facetious and satirical in their comments, but I don't think they were...in which case they truly are the ones with brain damage. Andrew's career choice and choice of schools is absolutely irrelevant; his decision is being made on the basis of long-term health, happiness and ability to enjoy life with his family. Andrew, good call and don't ever second guess your decision; it's the right one and you know it. It's some of these bloggers whose brains are already "scrambled'. Thanks for what you gave to OSU at the Shoe and remember that Buckeye Nation loves you, man! Now hit the books! 🙂

    May 17, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. MannyHM

    You can't distinguish the brains of IED (improvised explosive device) of soldiers from that of football players suffering from chronic brain encephalopathy. That was in the news yesterday.

    May 17, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
    • personalitytestonline

      who can blame him? The average NFL lifespan is 3 seasons. He will probably make more money under his dads wing as a lawyer anyway.

      May 17, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Hadenuffyet

    BS , Football is a freakin game of entertainment and in the scheme of things , means little. This guy made the right choice.

    May 17, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • melvinslizard

      I don't know if this guy will make a good lawyer or not... wouldn't most lawyers sign the NFL contract, then look for a way to get paid will not fulfilling the obligation to the team?? Maybe they cover that concept in the first graduate semester...

      May 18, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. S.R.

    Why not use a different helmet design? Maybe a helmet with a layer of water or liquid built in to absorb the impact and disperse it through out the helmet.

    May 17, 2012 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Mean Mr. Jerkface

      Because the best helmet in the world still wouldn't do diddly-squat. I ain't had no fancy-pants medical schoolin', but I do know that a concussion occurs when the brain bounces around the skull. Think of it like a car carrying a sack of potatoes. If you get into a head-on collision, the car stops but the potatoes don't.

      May 17, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. Larry Batchlor

    Dear Mr. Sweat,
    You are probably one of the smartest athletes of whom I have had the pleasure of reading about. You know when to call it quits. Who knows, one more lick against the head and you may be drinking food through a straw the rest of your life. Let these fools say what they want about you passing up such a great "opportunity". Most of them have never had to tackle anything more than traffic much less a 240# tailback off a flea flicker run. Moreover, admittedly, with football you can make a lot of quick money that few people will ever see for a small amount of time but with law you can not only make a change in the world that you live in but for future generations as well...I wish you well..May God be with you on your journey.

    May 17, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. jdun

    By all means go to law school. It is obvious that your brain has become very susceptible to damage if you get any more hits, which is unavoidable in the NFL. The time is coming where football will have to be altered to protect the young men from concussion risk- don't know how to do that, but I think rugby, without pads is safer. Mystal has no clue. He probably is just a football wannabe who could never make the grade. Former lawyer?

    May 17, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • HU

      Everything Mystal said about law school is 100 percent accurate. This player will be ok only because he is guaranteed a job in his father's firm through nepotism. Otherwise, he would be guaranteed unemployment after going to a second tier law school.

      May 17, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  8. Duane

    Good choice, glad he took the long term over the short term gains in his life.

    May 17, 2012 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  9. T

    Mr. Sweat made the right decision and Elie Mystal's advice/opinion is an extremely bad one.
    Better to keep your brains/body intact than to risk it even for one game for a lifetime of mental/physical problems just for the big payday, especially when it comes to one having a history of concussions. That payday would definitely be eaten up by healthcare needs if he gets injured.

    May 17, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  10. Mean Mr. Jerkface

    Sweat's a smart man. It sounds like the lawyers who think this is unwise are basing their opinions on Sweat's career path and/or choice of law school. It should be obvious by now that football is a dangerous sport that often results in long-term head injuries. . . and so he's taking crap because he doesn't want those injuries? Because people think that a short-term high salary will result in a happier retirement? I'm guessing that fishing with a concussion is unpleasant.

    I like football. Always have. But it's time to remove it from public schools and ensure that the people who play it are consenting adults. I can't believe we willingly subject our kids to this sport.

    May 17, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  11. Nathan

    I think he's making the bad choice... unless he already comes from money. A couple of years playing in the NFL could get him in a comfortable place financially and then he could go to law school (bad career prosepects). I doubt that the team physicians would push him into a deadly situation.

    May 17, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. SPENT

    This is an outrage! His momma wants him in the NFL. What is he doing, thinking? What a concept.

    May 17, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John Schwendler

    Solid future ahead for this young man. He can make a good living defending fellow alum Art Schlicter.

    May 17, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Marlon

    I don't blame him. No money is worth the psychological damage done. He had 3 concussions in college. That is enough. Another hit can be fatal or permenant damage. ANd with a league that covers up this stuff, I would not risk it.Money is not everything. I don't want to see another man kill himself over the damage done to his brain. We have to admit that until pro and college football does more to protect these young athletes we will see more sucide and premature deaths amongst our youth. Gee whiz!!! Let the man live!!!

    May 18, 2012 at 4:29 am | Report abuse |
  15. Marlon

    Most guys who played football in college or the pros tell you that the game is not worth it for all the injuries that you take. Beating on the field is brutal. We can set back as couch potatoes and whine about choices; but, get out there and play the game and see how rough it is. The average hit in the NFL will go through an average size man. AND YES EVEN THE CONCUSSIONS HE HAD MY STILL EFFECT HIM FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE. So why condone more devastating hits to a brain that is already damaged!!!!!!

    May 18, 2012 at 4:40 am | Report abuse |
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