When Bill O’Brien was hired away from Penn State, after having made his name as the Offensive Coordinator for the Patriots, Texans fans dreamed dreams of elite quarterbacking, supplemented by two tight end sets featuring matchup nightmares like Rob Gronkowski. To that end, The Texans’ front office promptly drafted C.J. Fiedorowicz in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
The big tight end from Illinois played his college ball for the Iowa Hawkeyes, where O’Brien, also coaching in the Big Ten, should have seen his abilities. For the Texans, CJ-F150 hasn’t been able to make a lasting mark, due in part of consistent ineffectiveness at the quarterback position and in the coaching staff, but also due to his repeated injuries. Fiedorowicz suffered three concussions during the 2017 season alone and spent much of the campaign on Injured Reserve.
That’s got him wondering about his future in the NFL, because, as he recently admitted, “Anytime that’s on your mind while you’re playing an NFL football game, you’re in trouble. You can’t play timid.” Fiedorowicz was in his hometown of Johnsburg, Illinois, to be inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame last Friday when he spoke to local media about his injuries, the lasting impact the concussions have had on his ability to play loose, and the very real possibility that he may walk away from the game entirely. Some of the notable things said:
“A dude knocked me out,” he said. “After eight weeks (a period on injured reserve), when I came back, it was constantly on my mind. I wasn’t always able to play loose and free. It was in my head. Anytime that’s on your mind while you’re playing an NFL football game, you’re in trouble. You can’t play timid. Guys are trying to take your head off, you know?”
“I happened to get a couple of pretty bad concussions, and you can’t help but think about that,” Fiedorowicz said. “It was on my mind. … When I’m thinking about it during a game, that’s when you know it’s a problem.”
“You can’t go repair your brain,” he said. “It’s not like an ACL or shoulder. That’s serious. I took some dingers. There was a couple of weeks there where I was having some tough times. This is what I’ve done my whole life, so to think that I’m going to walk away is tough. It’s not something that I thought of doing, because I signed the new deal, anytime soon. Life goes on, whatever happens.”
Fiedorowicz plans on attending the Texans’ workouts that start April 2, then their organized team activities in mid-May. By then, he may know what lies with his future.
“I have a backup plan,” he said. “I’ve realized money is not happiness. Money definitely gives you freedom, but I’ve played four years. I’ve accomplished things I wanted to accomplish. It’s more about making my town happy, making my family happy and being able to enjoy the rest of my life.”
Fiedorowicz said he might even sit out the 2018 season and reconsider next offseason.
“I know I enjoy working out enough to be able to continue playing, but maybe I just need a little time away,” Fiedorowicz said. “I don’t have to make that decision right now.”
While Texans fans must admit that Fieorowicz’s repeated unavailability has been frustrating, I’m sure most of us didn’t predict his career quite possibly ending this way. Do you think Fiedorowicz will suit up in the NFL again? Should he?