What happened to Tarik Cohen is part of the game. Whatever you mean by the game. Whether it’s just professional athletes – especially soccer players – who are more prone to physical injury than those who don’t move at 90 mph to make each other’s chests to earn a living, or any person who takes the risks takes that go hand in hand with a job. When a person signs the paperwork to provide labor to a company for a wage, that person assumes the risk of all reasonable damages that may result from that work.
No need for you, the NFL-consuming public, to feel sorry for Cohen, who injured his Achilles tendon live on Instagram Tuesday. He was training to return after an ACL injury he sustained in early 2020. The team that drafted him as a key contributor to their offense, the Chicago Bears, decided after the 2021 season that it was time to part ways with Cohen. This was 18 months after they signed a 3-year contract with a guaranteed value of almost $10 million.
The one-time special team Pro Bowler for the Bears averaged 6.9 yards per offensive touch in his best season – 2018. He should be the backward back with the athleticism to score from anywhere and goodness was Cohen athletic. before the draft, Video went viral from his workout, in which Cohen caught a soccer ball in each hand while doing a backflip. Who cares if North Carolina A&T isn’t a college football playoff program, Cohen was clearly an athlete the Bears had no problem making some of their offense as a fourth-round pick.
What happened to him through injury is sad, but on top of what he revealed to the public last week, the whole situation is heartbreaking.
Cohen had an article released in the Player’s Tribune entitled “Letter to my younger self”. While the title wasn’t unique, the story absolutely is. He moved a lot as a kid, and before his senior year of high school, his mother wanted him and his siblings to move again, away from the stability he had built with his current school and team. He convinced his mother to let him live with a relative for his final year and pursue his football goals as best he could.
He came into the NFL, but he deeply regrets what happened to his brothers Dante and Tyrell. They did not follow in his footsteps, instead dropping out of school and spending time engaging in less legal activities. Dante would end up getting shot and paralyzed. Tyrell would eventually come down to earth and have a family, but was shot and killed anyway. Then, after Cohen’s story was published in the Player’s Tribune last week, Dante dies in a car accident. As Cohen mourns, his leg collapses and it goes viral.
This is sports. That can happen so quickly. A player gets a decent contract and of course in the NFL the entire $18 million+ is not guaranteed and before the age of 27 a career is taken to a precarious place while dealing with genuine grief.
Cohen did everything right with the macro. He made the sacrifice he thought would best serve his career as an undersized traffic jam and his family in the long run. He then got through an FCS program and eventually achieved his NFL goals and got the contract to provide for his family.
But sometimes life doesn’t care about choices. Sometimes it just happens. It happened to Cohen. We can cling to all the hackneyed lessons meant to comfort us more than Cohen and his family, “Remind the people in your life how much you love them” and “Don’t take anything for granted.” Of course we should do these things, but hugging a loved one more often will not ease the pain if the worst were to happen.
If you can take anything from it, it’s this: The game doesn’t feel anything. It’s not here to understand when someone is tired or hurt, it’s here to be played. And sometimes, catching two soccer balls on a backflip isn’t enough to hit it. However, effort is always admirable and the best thing any of us can do is try as hard as Tarik Cohen did.