Did football kill Tyler Sash?

by Gunnar Davis

I don’t know Tyler Sash personally. But I did meet him a couple times a few years back when he was still playing for the Giants. Every time I talked to him, he was genuinely a nice guy. He signed some things for me, and I even got to go to his home in Oskaloosa for a bonfire.
Recently, he was found dead in his home after mixing two very potent painkillers. And even more recently, it was found out that Sash had a very advanced form of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, otherwise known as CTE, which is a brain disease that is caused by repeated head traumas. CTE is becoming more and more apparent in NFL players.
This is where it gets wild.
It was found that Sash had a form of CTE just as advanced as that of players who played in the NFL for 10 years. Sash played for two seasons and one training camp.
As a football player and fan, this scares the crap out of me. To think that a 27-year-old man had such an advanced form of that serious of a disease is terrifying, not only to players, but also to fans. Will everyone who plays professionally develop the disease? Can we make the game safer? Will football even exist in 20 years?
These are questions that all of us have. With more time and research, we will find out the answer to those questions.
But what truly killed Tyler Sash?
I’ve read over a dozen articles on the death of Sash and the recent discovery of CTE. One of them that stuck out to me was one by the website “blackheartgoldpants.” The title of the article was FOOTBALL KILLED TYLER SASH. The article was powerful and thought-provoking, and a lot of people I know had shared it through social media. But I didn’t fully agree with the piece.
In the article, the writer talks about how football basically tore Sash apart. But if you think about it, the sport made Sash who he was. People who play football professionally know what they’re signing up for. Sash basically decided to drop out of college after his junior year in college to declare for the draft. Now, what many people don’t know, and what Sash unfortunately found out, is that the average player in the NFL lasts just over three years. Coaches are continually bringing in new talent, and when an injury or something negative happens, players can find themselves left out on the curb. And when they don’t have a backup plan, like getting a degree, things can go south quickly.
What we also know is that in the NFL, if they can find a way to get a leg up on competitors to keep their job, a lot of the time they’re going to take it. Players will take drugs like Adderall or serious painkillers just to keep their bodies and minds in great shape. And once they get out of the league, sometimes the drugs will come with them. It’s easy enough to get addicted while in the league, ie: Brett Favre 1996.
Sash overdosed on painkillers after his untimely exit of the league and unfortunately paid the price for it. But did football kill Tyler Sash? Not exactly. Did football play a large part in his decision making, consequently leading to his death? Yes.
In my mind, I don’t think it was football that killed Tyler Sash. If anything, Sash really lived when he was playing football.
What happens now? What do we do now after knowing what we know about Sash? The answer is, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows. But what I do know is that I don’t see football going away anytime soon. Players know what they’re signing up for, and as long as the game is around, nobody’s going to stop watching. All we can do as fans is hope for continual developing technology and safer rules, so that maybe one day we won’t have to worry about football.