KUSA – There is an explanation for all those concerns and doubts people may have about Su’a Cravens, the Broncos’ new strong safety.
Problem is, post-concussion syndrome is not an ailment that can be seen or wrapped or even treated through conventional medicine.
“I was going through some personal issues with my family and I didn’t feel like myself,’’ Cravens said in a phone interview with 9News this weekend. “I did tell my teammates I was going to retire but I never officially retired.
“The Redskins brought me in, they told me they wanted me to get checked out, make sure I was all right. I go to a doctor and he tells me I’m going through something I didn’t even know I was going through. He said this is the reason why you feel this way and you’re in no condition to be making these decisions because of this and I guarantee if you rehab and get yourself better, you won’t be feeling this way.
“Once I got cleared in December, it was like I was a completely different person. Looking back at myself I’m thinking, that’s crazy. I thought I was just messed up but come to find out, I was going through something I wasn’t even aware of.’’
Washington’s second-round draft pick out of USC in 2016, Cravens suffered a concussion in his rookie season while playing predominantly as a sub-package linebacker. After missing his second season of 2017, Cravens was traded to the Broncos last week in a complicated trade that resulted in Washington receiving the equivalent of the draft pick between the end of the fourth round/beginning of the fifth, according to NFL value charts.
Cravens first heard about a possible trade to Denver five weeks prior. He was so excited he started checking out flights and going online to search for apartments in the area well before the trade was executed.
He is scheduled to fly from San Diego to Denver tonight with plans on spending the next two weeks getting settled and acclimated in his new hometown before the Broncos begin their offseason conditioning program April 16.
“Once I heard they were talking at the Combine I was just thinking, 'let’s get it done,’’' Cravens said. “I didn’t have a say where I would be traded to. I knew the Redskins were trying to get the best deal. But when I started hearing about the Broncos, I felt like they actually wanted me. They were a team that had a plan for me.’’
He received a text from Von Miller soon after the trade and he considers running back Devontae Booker, and safeties Will Parks and Jordan Moore among his friends.
“It won’t be all strangers when I get there,’’ Cravens said.
He is 6-foot-1 and most often listed at 225 pounds, although his body type is best etched in pencil than print.
“I’m about 217 now,’’ he said. “A couple months ago, I was 190. I played 235 as a freshman safety in college. So, whatever they want me at, I can get there.’’
He is versatile in style and position. He can sack the quarterback, intercept him and range from sideline to sideline to tackle the pass catcher.
“I’m a strong safety,’’ he said. “That’s what they told me I’m going to be. On third downs I’ll be playing dime linebacker.’’
His positions are currently occupied by Darian Stewart and Will Parks. Stewart starts alongside Justin Simmons. Stewart is guaranteed to make $4.5 million this season. Parks is a backup strong safety who played the dime package linebacker role last season.
Has it been mentioned Cravens and Parks are friends?
“It’s all right, it’s competition,’’ Cravens said. “I can’t wait.’’
His message to Broncos’ fans: Don’t believe everything you read or hear. With time, he will earn your trust.
“People have their own truths and can make their own decisions,’’ he said. “There is a narrative that people have that I quit, I quit on my team, that I don’t love football – that is completely forged and wrong.
“Everybody has the right to make their own decision, but my truth, I never quit on my team, I never abandoned anybody. I don’t know where they’re coming from with he quit at USC. I don’t know where that came from, that was made up. That’s a narrative that’s wrong.
“The only thing that matters to me is the Broncos and Bronco Country and just give me the chance to show you the type of football player and type of man that I am.’’
Commitment to the game is one thing. Returning from what essentially was a season-ending brain injury is another.
Perhaps, a better question is: Why didn’t Cravens retire? There are dozens, if not thousands of cautionary tales regarding former players who have suffered the lingering effects of concussions. Cravens is an active player who experienced traumatic effects from a concussion. And yet he’s willing to come back and play his second NFL season with his second team.
“Football is a violent sport and it can be scary but I know what I’m signing up for,’’ he said. “I think we all do. I’m well aware of my situation and this is my decision to continue to play. I’m not going to second-guess my decision to go out there and play. I’m planning on making plays and being the same physical player I’ve always been and I’ll live with the consequences because this is my choice to do so. Every man, every woman, they have a choice they can make. This is my choice.’’