Why Andrew Sweat stepped away from NFL dream

Staff Writer
The Columbus Dispatch

On Friday morning, Andrew Sweat awoke in Cleveland ready to start earning his way into the NFL.

He never made it to the field.

The former Ohio State linebacker bumped his head on the wall after slipping when he stepped out of the shower at the Browns team hotel in Middleburg Heights. As the minutes passed, the concussion symptoms that had plagued him on and off for months returned. After consulting with his family, he decided to step away from the game for good.

"It was a tough decision for me, but in a sense it wasn't that tough," Sweat said this morning.

Sweat sustained a concussion last fall before the Purdue game, which he said today was the third of his college career. He was cleared to play against Michigan but dislocated his elbow in practice. It's something Sweat now believes may have been a blessing in disguise. He passed medical tests and played in the Gator Bowl loss to Florida, but wasn't at full strength.

Before the NFL draft, Sweat said he was eager to pursue his dream of playing pro football and believed he had a good chance to be drafted. He wasn't, and signed as a free agent with the Browns.

"I was actually rooming with (former Buckeyes teammate) J.B. (Shugarts) and was up an hour and a half before him," Sweat said. "I showered and hit my head and didn't think anything of it. A couple hours passed, and I was like, wow, this doesn't feel right."

He went to the Browns' facility in nearby Berea and told team officials what had happened.

"I stayed inside for practice," Sweat said. "I talked to my family and decided I'm going to step away. A lot of people think I didn't even report, but I did. I was up there for two days."

A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Sweat has been accepted to five law schools. He is also considering a job in medical sales.

"It was a tough decision, but I did do well in school and have other options," Sweat said.

He said the Browns were supportive of his decision.

"It is tough because it's definitely what I wanted to do, but taking a step back, I have to be selfish," Sweat said. "I feel bad I gave the Browns my commitment. But I have to be selfish and take my health first.

"The Browns were a great organization. I loved all the coaches, everyone from the top down. But I just didn't think it was fair to them and didn't think it was fair to me to continue the way I felt."