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Sam Shields Is Coming Back, Goddammit!

Sam Shields, a year away from the game, is determined to play in the NFL again. This, despite — I don’t know, we’ve lost count — six concussions?

We knew Shields wanted to come back in February. That he had been preparing for the opportunity.

Not surprisingly — and also unfortunate for Shields — is that the opportunity is with the Cleveland Browns.

We have advocated for the Packers to re-sign Shields. The caveat for anyone who signs Shields is this — another concussion and he’s done with football. He has said as much. And as he should be, but that’s a risk for the team that brings him in.

The Browns. At this point, not surprising.

John Dorsey, Alonzo Highsmith, Eliot Wolf… that front office knows what Shields can do, when healthy. Highsmith is the guy who found Shields, one of the great undrafted free agent signings credited to Ted Thompson.

The Packers released Shields in February of 2017. He played one game that season and then spent most of the rest of it on injured reserve.

And that’s the thing. It’s not like, I tore my ACL and I’ll be back, good as new a year later. It’s if I land and my head hits the ground I’m probably concussed, can’t remember my kids’ names, might go away six months from now and, also, I am not playing football anymore.

For the team, there’s risk/reward there.

For a team as desperate as the Browns, it’s probably just potential reward.

And as much as I wanted the Packers to bring Shields back for the on-field ramifications, because the Packers need that guy, I can’t in good conscious abide by that. The guy is going to land wrong. His head is going to bounce off the turf. He’ll have a concussion. He’ll be fucked.

These things don’t get lesser in severity. They get greater.

Shields won’t even remember he played for the Browns, which is a plus. But not the way he’s going to arrive at it.

Joseph Bonham

Joseph is a fiction writer when he isn't doing this. In his spare time he likes to do manly things like drink beer and procreate.



  1. cz March 5, 2018

    i am continuously amazed (though i should no longer be) how inept the packers are at finding talent and/or coaching, that we are even discussing bringing back such a damaged out of football not drafted player who was never a perennial all pro when he was younger and completely healthy.

    1. PF4L March 5, 2018

      I don’t think there are any reports about the Packers wanting him back.

    2. David March 7, 2018

      There is no way Shields returns to GB with his injury history. The pack are very conservative with injuries, especially to the head/neck. If they weren’t willing to take the risk on Collins, Finley and Franklin (to a lesser extent) they obviously aren’t going to backtrack after a year and bring Shields back. They aren’t so desperate that they are willing to put his healthy at serious risk again

  2. PF4L March 5, 2018

    There are 4 things that come to mind….

    One, will he throttle it down to protect himself? Play less aggressive. Catch a pick, but go down right away, things like that.

    He’d have to have medical clearance. Not many medical staffs would sign off on that if there were serious concerns. which the teams would still have to pass him.

    If he’s football ready, he’d be a pretty good buy off the bargain rack, and a huge bonus for a team like the Browns.

    Lastly….if i’m correct on this, wouldn’t he be facing a mandatory 4 game suspension?

    1. Kato March 5, 2018

      Yes to all of those.

    2. tupac March 6, 2018

      He was fucking stupid in his efforts to tackle he put his head in danger all the time. If he could figure out how to keep his head out of it I think he would be good. No change even needed.

  3. Kato March 5, 2018

    Look, I get the urge to play football. I miss playing myself, I miss the locker room, game planning, working out for it, film study. But damn, there are things that are more important in life. Does he really want to risk being a vegetable, or having dementia? I get that’s a risk to every player that steps on the field right now. Hell, Shazier will be lucky to walk again. But Shields has a much higher chance of shit happening. He really needs someone close to him to step up and protect him from himself. Concussions are no joke. I had a bad one and was back on the field the next week, still with symptoms. If I would have known what I know now, I would not have been playing. Maybe I will pay for that later in life, idk.

  4. Jschizl March 5, 2018

    Look at Muhammad Ali think if he would have quit sooner. Wonder if he had regrets. Financially he should be fine this guy just loves him some football

  5. Cheese March 5, 2018

    “Shields won’t even remember he played for the Browns, which is a plus.” Lol

    Neurological damage is nothing to mess around with. This dude needs to join his local flag football team, or join a crossfit gym. Who cares if he becomes the annoying crossfit junkie, at least he won’t be brain dead.

    1. Kato March 6, 2018

      Yeah. I have mostly fond memories of Shields. His presence as a nickelback in 2010 was a key to the packers defense that year and winning the super bowl. I don’t say this about a lot of packers defenders but I like him and really don’t want the guy to hurt himself.

  6. Savage57 March 6, 2018

    “These things don’t get lesser in severity. They get greater.”

    Seems writing doesn’t have the same requirements it once did.

  7. Big B March 6, 2018

    Remember the hit which knocked him out? Not very dramatic, in fact routine. He has no place on a football field now, his threshold for concussion is too low. Thanks for the memories.