Traumatic brain injuries have ended countless careers in professional athletics before they began, but few of these injured athletes were forced to make the decision right as their dreams were coming true.
Adrian Coxson was an undrafted free agent rookie from Stony Brook signed with the Green Bay Packers in May and was preparing for his shot at the big time, but instead he found himself being carted off the Packers’ practice field in early August with a brain injury that would put an end to all of his plans.
It was only the third day of training camp in his rookie season when Coxson suffered a Grade 3 concussion that would make him decide to retire before more severe damage was done.
“I’m retiring because I’m still having symptoms and my health is more important to me than the game of football,” Coxson said in a telephone interview with the National Football Post. “It’s been recommended to me by two neurologists and two doctors to retire from football. The next hit to my head could possibly kill me or be life damaging. This last one could be life damaging. It has taken a great toll on me. This concussion was a bad one. A Grade 3 concussion is real serious.”
Coxson was released by the Packers on Aug. 17, citing “failure to disclose physical condition, but Jonathan Herbst, Coxson’s agent, told ESPN.com that the claim had been disputed and the parties reached an injury settlement.
“I think he’s making the right decision,” Herbst told ESPN on Monday. “His health is more important than football.”
Coxson told the National Football Post that he has no regrets.
“I take pride in that, I take pride in being able to function right now from this injury,” he said. “I’m concerned about my health and I’m concerned about how healthy I am and I want to get to as close to 100 percent as I can get. I’m concerned about the outcome of this whole injury. It was a bad one.”
It’s always up to the athlete to decide whether the reward is worth the risk from brain injuries, but incidents like Coxson’s are not uncommon and it is important to know when the risk becomes too great.