Mark Rypien was obviously a natural at playing golf.
When he came to Washington in 1986, he says he had a 25 handicap and played 75 straight days when it wasn’t raining and got himself down to a 7 handicap.
By 1990, he won the first American Century Celebrity Championship, then won it again in 2014 and will be playing in the tournament in Lake Tahoe the weekend of July 13-15.
Of course, Rypien made a bigger name for himself as an NFL quarterback, winning Super Bowl MVP honors after the 1991 season when the Washington Redskins beat the Buffalo Bills, 37-24.
Unfortunately, like many other former NFL players, Rypien paid a big price for his success in football.
He’s talked in the past about the effects of the numerous concussions he’s suffered, including a suicide attempt.
It’s easy to think how Rypien’s life would have been different if he had become a full-time golfer and never played in the NFL.
Rypien admits he has thought about it himself.
In a conference call recently about the American Century Championship, he admitted he might have been “better off’’ if his parents had the money for him to pursue a career in golf.
It’s a problem for the NFL when even a Super Bowl MVP says he might have been better off not playing football because of the effects of the concussions he suffered.
Last year, Rypien told the Spokane Spokesman-Review, ”I’ve been down the darkest path.’’
“I’ve made some horrible, horrible mistakes,’’ he added. “But I’ve given myself a chance to progress forward.’’
Rypien said there is a misperception that a player needs to be knocked out to have a concussion.
“It’s all about cumulative hits,’’ he said. “That’s what causes brain damage.’’
Rypien played in the day before concussion protocols, when a concussion was described as “getting your bell rung.”
Rypien said he once came to the sidelines after a big hit and coach Joe Gibbs told him to run the most basic Redskins play and he didn’t remember it was in the playbook.
Although the NFL has made a lot of strides in making the game safer, Rypien said he wouldn’t put any of his kids in a football jersey.
His daughter Angela played in the Lingerie Football League, and Rypien said it makes him sick that he thought it was a good idea at the time.
Can the NFL make the game safe enough that in the future, former Super Bowl MVPs won’t say they would have been better off not playing football?
It’s a dilemma the league has yet to find an answer to.