Corey Widmer may be the exception, but he’s willing to be the vocal exception.
The former Giants middle linebacker, who played eight years in the NFL, recently turned down an invitation to be enshrined in the Montana Football Hall of Fame because he’s so disturbed by what the game he once played did to him and countless others. So for him, all the pain present and future isn’t worth the money and the glory in his past.
Widmer described physical and emotional symptoms consistent with other former players dealing with brain injuries, and he’s fearful for what is to come.
“I’m 49 years old, depressed to the Nth degree but have a lot of money . . . and some people might say it’s still worth it. I just tell them to watch what they wish for,” Widmer said. “If someone could’ve explained all of this to me when I was 14, I would’ve given it all back in a heartbeat. I would’ve wished for something else.
“The 6-foot-2, 260-pound canary in the coal mine has died. Maybe having been in the coal mine is the only way to really get the point across.”
While many former players are willing to acknowledge the benefits of the sport — including financial — Widmer no longer feels comfortable with the trade-off. And he’s willing to walk away from any recognition of his playing career to underscore his point.
Koetter said Winston talked to Brett Favre and other former quarterbacks this offseason, looking for any tips to keep him healthy over the long haul of the season.
“I talked to Jameis and I know he’s put in a lot of study in the offseason and a lot of time,” Koetter said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “I just think the main thing that he learned last year is it’s hard to make it through a 16-game season at any position without having your body nicked up. He’d been blessed in his career to have never had many injuries, and he had some significant injuries last year and he did a great job of trying to play through it.
“I think he did some research with some veteran quarterbacks on how to get through those injuries, and I know he’s doing a great job of taking care of his body. These guys come into the league and they’ve just always been better than everybody, and now they’re playing against all elite players. I mean, Jameis has always been a winner and we haven’t won. I know Jameis will always do whatever it takes to help our team win.”