The next phase of Piland’s life begins
Part of David Piland’s life has regained a sense of normalcy.
After suffering a concussion on Sept. 7, the redshirt junior quarterback has returned to class and is again attending team meetings, observing practices and traveling to road contests.
On the field, however, his life will never be the same.
After advisement from the UH concussion management team, Piland has decided to end his football career. There is no definite number of concussions he has endured since he began playing football, but Piland has suffered at least two during his UH career.
He said it was a tough decision to hang up his cleats.
“It was not easy to hear that I can no longer play the game that I love, but I know that our medical staff has my best interests in mind,” Piland said in a statement. “I will always cherish my time on the field and my time at the University of Houston.”
The nation’s consciousness of the symptoms and future ramifications of continued concussions has grown in the past decade, with some high-profile players committing suicide and others facing depression years after their playing days had concluded.
The NFL settled a lawsuit with former players who suffered concussions while members of the league. According to CNN, the NFL will pay $765 million to fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation, medical research for retired NFL players and their families, and litigation expenses, according to a court document filed in a U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
Piland could have continued to play football, but this decision allows him to have a better future, said defensive coordinator David Gibbs.
“Back when I played football, you’d get 10, 12 concussions and nobody cared. So it’s good if you look at the big picture. When he’s got kids on down the road, he’s going to want to play with them,” Gibbs said.
“So it’s sad — I know he’s had a good career. I’m sure he wanted to finish it up in a different way, but my hat’s off to him, and hopefully he has a great future anyway.”
For players like junior center Bryce Redman, who snapped the ball to Piland, seeing a fellow player’s career cut short is tough because the two had grown close off the field. When Redman was a freshman, he lived two doors down from Piland. Redman said he was almost a “third roommate” to Piland and junior offensive lineman Rowdy Harper.
“He wasn’t just my quarterback. I’m really good friends with him … I know how much he loves to play and I just think about how I would feel if it were me,” Redman said.
“It just sucks that I’m never going to take another snap from him.”
Piland was a model student athlete who contributed a lot to the program, said athletics director Mack Rhoades.
“We all need to remember that these are young men, and he’s going through a lot in having to quit the game that he loves,” Rhoades said. “It’s never been about what’s best for him, but what’s best for our team; (he’s) extremely unselfish and just a great student athlete.”
Piland finished his collegiate career ranked seventh in the UH record books for passing yards (5,790), completions (478), pass attempts (833), touchdown passes (41), touchdowns responsible for (43) and total offense (6,039).
He also holds the NCAA record for most attempts within a game without an interception. Piland accrued 77 attempts without an interception against Louisiana Tech in 2012. He is also scheduled to graduate from the University in December with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
He will continue to be a part of the program, attending meetings, observing practice and traveling with the team, said head coach Tony Levine.
“This has not been easy, certainly on David and his family. We are going to certainly support him in every way possible,” Levine said. “He is a young man that has handled everything throughout his entire career here with class.”
For most players, football comes to an end before the possibility of a professional career. Redman said Piland’s short career makes Redman think of his own.
“Something like this always makes you think about (the end). As a football player, we’re pretty superstitious — we don’t like to think about that,” Redman said.
“We don’t even like to put that out in the universe … really, football is a blessing, and it’s just better to think about it that way and enjoy every practice and every time we get to put these pads on.”