Brittany Schock / Asst. photo editor
The NFL appeared to be the next step in former Ohio State linebacker Andrew Sweat’s career, but less than three weeks after signing with the Cleveland Browns, concussion concerns have derailed his football future.
“I had three concussions at Ohio State,” Sweat said. “I still was having symptoms, just worried about the longevity of my future. Too worried not to make the decision to step away.”
Sweat said he met with Dr. Michael “Micky” Collins, the clinical and executive director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program, and was cleared to play.
“I went and met with Micky Collins in Pittsburgh,” Sweat said. “I actually passed the test … I decided to give the Browns a shot due to that, but I slipped in the shower and hit my head again and symptoms came back, so it was at that point that I decided to step away.”
Sweat said he was “confident” in his ability to play in the NFL. During his senior season at OSU he recorded 72 tackles and was selected by coaches as a second-team all-Big Ten performer, but in the end, Sweat said retirement was the decision he had to make.
Concussions have garnered national attention in recent months for negative side effects current and former NFL players have been experiencing as a result of hard blows to the head.
In early May, more than 100 players filed a federal lawsuit saying that pro football didn’t properly protect its players from concussions.
When Sweat made his decision to step away form the game, national media outlets like ESPN and FOX News interviewed him to discuss the growing issue of concussions in football.
In the end, Sweat said the health played a pivotal role in his decision-making process.
“Health was paramount,” Sweat said. “I don’t think I really had a choice.”
Sweat was not selected among the 253 players taken in the 2012 NFL Draft, but he was signed as a free agent following the draft by the Cleveland Browns. He said he believes he would have been drafted had it not been for teams’ concerns surrounding his concussions.
“I knew my concussion was still a huge, huge red flag, and I probably knew I wasn’t going to get drafted because of that,” Sweat said. “When I’m healthy, I think that I can definitely give a team a lot. I can play special teams, I can play any linebacking position. I was just hoping for an opportunity and I got one with the Browns, but it’s just unfortunate that it didn’t work out.”
Sweat said he talked to at least 20 NFL teams, including the Atlanta Falcons, prior to the 2012 NFL Draft.
While Sweat’s professional football career came to an end before it ever truly began, he has other career options to fall back on.
Sweat said he is set to graduate from OSU with a degree in business this spring. He added that he is deciding between pursuing a career in law school or in medical sales.
Sweat has abandoned the goal of playing in the NFL, but he said he has plans for success in his future.
“Family’s really important to me,” Sweat said. “I want to be successful and provide for my family in the future, and just to be happy with what I’m doing, and to be passionate and to compete and excel at the highest level, just like I did with football.”