Former UConn Football star Byron Jones calls out NFL


Byron Jones, a former UConn football player and current eight-year NFL veteran, recently shared some interesting words about his experience playing in the NFL and the impacts that his career has had on his body thus far. 

Jones was a standout athlete as a Husky, playing for the school at safety and cornerback from 2010 to 2014. He was eventually drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, shortly after he broke the world record for standing broad jump at the 2015 NFL Combine. Jones would become a star in the NFL, where he made a Pro Bowl in 2018 and earned a five-year, $82 million contract with the Miami Dolphins in 2020. Despite his early success, this past season did not go as well for Jones. 

In March of 2022, Jones had offseason surgery to repair a heel injury that had been nagging him for the 2021 season. It is normal for professional athletes to have offseason surgeries to clean up any wear and tear that has been causing issues. In almost all cases, these athletes are ready to go by training camp. Jones’ situation seemed no different, as the Dolphins were told that he would be set for day one of training camp in July. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Not only did Jones not play in training camp, but he ended up missing the entire 2022 season due to this surgery. This left many people confused as to what was going on with the health of the former star. The whole situation seemed mysterious. Then, on Feb. 25 of this year, Jones addressed the concern shown by his fanbase. 

Jones revealed what he had been going through by responding to a tweet from the NFL, which was celebrating his world record for standing broad jump back in 2015. In this tweet, he claimed that he still “can’t run or jump” due to his offseason surgery and the wear and tear from playing eight NFL seasons. He advised fellow players, “DO NOT take the pills they give you. DO NOT take the injections they give you. If you absolutely must, consult an outside doctor to learn the long-term implications,” noted Jones. He later went on to say, “Godspeed to the class of 2023.” 

It is no secret that American football is a dangerous game. People still choose to play it, in part due to the (in some cases hundreds of) millions of dollars that professional football players earn. Yet recently, there has been a growing amount of awareness about exactly how dangerous the sport is. CTE has become a hot topic for discourse around the league, along with head injuries in general, as seen with the Tua Tagovailoa situation this year, where the QB was thrown back onto the field too quickly after suffering a concussion. Thus, hearing a current NFL athlete weigh in on this debate is definitely substantial. 

It is certainly a big deal that Jones is blaming the NFL’s medical treatment for his ongoing issues. The fact that he still cannot run or jump is alarming. He is seemingly trying to convey that the injections, pills and treatments that he received to recover from his offseason surgery are chiefly to blame for his struggles. This connects to an ongoing discourse that is seen not only within the NFL, but across most professional sports leagues, in which these leagues view their players as business commodities rather than human beings. The NFL wants their players to recover from injuries as quickly as possible so that they can get back on the field and earn the NFL more revenue. By having this mindset, the NFL may give these players ineffective medications or treatments that have drastic side effects, as seen with Jones. 

On the other hand, the former UConn star’s struggles could just be the result of playing one of the most dangerous sports in the world for years. These athletes willingly sign up for a sport in which they are actively putting their bodies on the line each and every day, and they are paid significantly to do this. 

Nonetheless, it is significant that Jones is warning the incoming NFL rookie class of 2023 about this. Even more recent than his tweet, it was announced that the Dolphins are planning to release the former star, potentially bringing his retirement age to just 30 if he can’t suit up again. This whole situation brings up one big question: Will we start to see less people playing football in the near future due to the seemingly increasing risks? 

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