‘I Chickened Out’
‘I Chickened Out’
Ex-linebacker Scott Fujita nearly walked away because of concussion concerns but couldn’t ‘get off the hamster wheel.’ His perspective on Chris Borland’s bold decision, plus answering questions about Deflategate, Marcus Mariota and more
Fujita, now living in California, said he greatly admired what Borland did. He said he almost quit at age 30, after his eighth season in the league, after he played for the Super Bowl-winning Saints in 2009, because he’d sustained a concussion in the Super Bowl win over Indianapolis and thought he should walk away.
“But I chickened out,” Fujita said. “A week or so before free agency began [in 2010], everything cleared up, I felt good, and I realized I still wanted to play.”
And there was the matter of a three-year, $14-million contract with Cleveland ($8 million guaranteed) to consider. Fujita played. Well, sort of. He finished each of his three seasons in Cleveland injured, and never had a year there befitting his talent. As Fujita said: “I limped to the finish line of my career.”
His story: “I was paid well in Cleveland, and my family and I will benefit from it the rest of our lives. That’s what is tough late in your career. After I got the concussion in the Super Bowl, in the weeks after, my wife would say to me, ‘You just don’t seem like yourself.’ But you think you’ve got one last chance for a bite at the apple, and you feel good enough, and you figure you should take it.
“That’s why, with Borland, my first reaction is he was brave and smart and courageous to make a decision like this. And mature, for a 24-year-old. How many guys that age would do their homework on their own and research head trauma and be able to come up with such a major life decision with such an attractive football future ahead of them?
“I can tell you this: No matter how intelligently you think about your future, and a decision like that, it’s tough to get off the hamster wheel and stop playing.”
One of the reasons I reached out to Fujita was to try to put things in perspective. I always felt, even with the toughest issues, he could look at things from all sides. Which is why I wanted to know what he thought about the long-term effect of Borland’s decision—if he could see one yet.
He can’t. It’s too early. Not enough has happened.
“I don’t see this as an indictment of football necessarily,” Fujita said. “This is just one more piece in a broader conversation about a very complicated puzzle. I’ve always said the biggest threat to football, long-term, will be a diminishing talent pool. But we don’t know if there will be one yet, or when that will happen. So everyone should cool it with the hyperbole.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Full article posted at: http://mmqb.si.com/2015/03/18/chris-borland-scott-fujita-nfl/