Tony Scheffler was forced into retirement from the NFL due to repeated concussions. The Detroit Lions released him in the middle of last season after a brutal hit against the Green Bay Packers sidelined him. Scheffler tried out for a few teams but never caught on with anyone.
Scheffler is from my hometown of Chelsea, MI. While it’s now a much larger place than when I grew up and it is actually a force to be reckoned with in the high school football world, when I played there, our team consisted of 13 total players my junior varsity year. You basically played every down of every game and not only did you have to know your position, you had to know everyone’s because if someone got hurt, you might be playing there. Because of that small town feeling that is held over from my youth, I felt a sense of pride watching Scheffler play, especially during the playoff season of 2011 when he was at his most effective scoring six touchdowns that year.
I also feel a sense of pride that Scheffler is retiring. It’s the right move and will give him a shot at a productive life rather than ending up with serious brain trauma as he moves forward. Scheffler is benefitting from having the knowledge of what these concussions do to a person and how it can ruin and shorten their lives. I suffered two concussions my junior varsity season and not much was known about them then. If you’ve never had one, it’s pretty easy to dismiss the impact of them. I took a massive hit and was pulled out of the game when I got my first concussion. The trainer’s assistant asked me where I was, what the score was, my name and a few other easy questions that I answered correctly. She knew I wasn’t right though and finally asked me one more question, what her name was. I didn’t know. She told me to go sit down, convinced that I was concussed, as it just so happened that she was my girlfriend at the time as well. My second concussion came a few weeks later. Nowadays, there is no way I would have been on that field yet and the second hit wasn’t nearly as hard as the first one. I stood on the sidelines for a moment, recognized the injury and walked off the field and into the locker room right then and there. Some of the guys thought I was weak for never playing again. I felt very smart, and as time has gone on, I obviously made the right move. That was 25 years ago, more is known now.
So congratulations Tony Scheffler, you played eight seasons in the NFL. You are walking away with an opportunity to live a productive life as a real estate agent in a nice town west of Ann Arbor and get to be a part of your high school alumni coaching staff. You have also done one of the most intelligent things a competitive man can do and that is to put your health in front of the desire to perform. There is no doubt with your size and skill level that you could have found a way to another NFL team and, Scheffler, you deserve credit for not doing so.