It was a difficult decision, as tough as any Su’a Cravens had made in his life.
He spent plenty of time reflecting as he pondered whether to walk away from the game he loved after his rookie season as a safety with the Washington Redskins in 2016.
‘My health comes first before anything’
Ultimately, Cravens decided, for the sake of his health, to leave the NFL. But after being medically cleared to return from a concussion while sitting out the 2017 campaign, he was ready to return. And on Thursday, the Redskins traded him to the Denver Broncos.
“To me, it was like life or death,” Cravens told Bruce Murray and Mark Dominick on the SiriusXM Blitz. “I actually told my mom and dad and we had a serious conversation about it. And they told me, ‘This is not something that we can really give you advice on. This is something that you have to decide for yourself, because this is something you’re going to have to live with the rest of your life if you can’t come back, but if you do, this can never happen again.’ So I really just took it to myself, as I’ve got to be mature about it, my health comes first before anything.”
‘I was going through a lot of personal issues, so I go to a doctor and get checked out’
Cravens knew something was wrong, and he had to do something about it.
“At time, I wasn’t feeling like myself,” he said. “I was going through a lot of personal issues, so I go to a doctor and get checked out. I was told I had a concussion and I was going through post-concussion syndrome and that I needed some time off in order to be able to come back to football, because I wasn’t going to be able to play this year. So once I learned that, it gave me a lot of time to just think — think about my health, think about my family, think about what’s important to me and what I have to do to handle my business.
‘That competitive spirit never left’
“Once I got those things out of the way, and really took the time to myself and my family, that competitive spirit never left. It was just more of something that was postponed. A lot of people have the perception that I quit. I don’t look it that way. I look at it as I took care of what I needed to do. My health is most important and once I handled that, then I can come back.”
During his time off, Cravens found watching NFL games on television unbearable. He had no problem turning on college games, but he simply couldn’t allow himself to sit through NFL action.
‘It hurt me, it hurt me bad’
“Whenever the NFL would come on, it would really make my skin crawl,” he said. “It would just burn me up on the inside, seeing guys that I competed against, seeing my teammates out there and I couldn’t be out there. It hurt me, it hurt me bad. I was just as frustrated with myself as I was with the situation. It really ate me up inside and as soon as I got cleared, man, I was ready to put on a helmet and shoulder pads that day.”
There were reports that the Redskins were willing to trade Cravens because he was clashing with teammates in the locker room.
‘As far as the locker room rumors, I want to put that to bed’
“That’s all fake,” he said. “When it comes to my teammates, there was never a rift in the locker room or a split where I wasn’t welcome. I’m not that kind of guy. But when it comes to me wanting a fresh start, I just think for me and the Redskins, I think it was just better off to get a fresh start and just part our ways. I think the time that we spent, it was up and it was just for the best for both parties.
“As far as the locker room rumors, I want to put that to bed. None of those things were true. There was never a conflict with me and my teammates.”
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