Former college players say pressure to play injured is common, ‘I’m 100 percent sure’

One former non-TCU college football player likened Kolby Listenbee’s lawsuit to a money grab.

Another former non-TCU college football player simply wasn’t surprised at all by the former TCU receiver’s decision to file a lawsuit in the State District Court in Dallas County against TCU coach Gary Patterson, the university and the Big 12 Conference, alleging a pattern of abuse and harassment.

“Ha ha ha. I’m not surprised at all,” this former player said. “It is in every college program. I’m 100 percent sure.”

Both players spoke to the Star-Telegram on the condition of anonymity because they recently stopped playing collegiately and remain close to their programs.

Listenbee, who is seeking damages in excess of $1 million, was injured on a touchdown reception against SMU in September 2015 during his senior season. He alleges that Patterson, former offensive coordinator Doug Meacham and other coaches “continually harassed, humiliated, pressured and threatened” Listenbee after his injury diagnosis in an effort to “force Listenbee to return to play quickly.”

While that particular ex-collegiate football player may not have been surprised by the news, it did strike one football coach as unfortunate.

“Embarrassed for his family and friends,” he said.

Another former college football player did admit that coaches do pressure players into returning as soon as possible if they’re injured.

“I don’t think that’s a myth. I’ve heard that multiple times from multiple people that if you get hurt the coaches treat you differently and want you to get back in there and play,” he said.

He added that coaches were more focused on getting a win under their belts for their own job security, rather than caring if the player, or players, makes it to the NFL.

“I mean, they do [care] because it helps them recruit,” he said. “But, if we’re being completely honest, the thing that helps them more than players going to the NFL is them winning games. But guys should know that before they sign up for the game. That’s just business. [Listenbee] knew what he was getting into.”

That same player had a hard time believing Listenbee was “forced” into returning to the field though.

“Nobody forces anybody to do anything,” he said. “If you are too hurt to play, you just don’t play. It’s not like they ripped Kolby’s pelvic region in half and ruined his life because they wanted to. They were doing whatever they had to to get him back in the game. But no one is going to force you do play. That’s just my take on it.”

This particular player said that when he was injured in college he was “shot up with medication to where I couldn’t feel it.” But he insisted the coaching staff at his school was cautious knowing he wasn’t at full strength.

“I wanted to play ball so I played,” he said. “It wore on me and made me not perform as well. But do I think the university is the reason I didn’t go to the league? No, I don’t.”

This particular player views Listenbee’s actions as a money grab.

“I think this is a simple case of things didn’t go well for me, I found out I have an injury, I’m not going to get a payday from the league so I might need to see if I can get something from the university that I got hurt at,” he said.

Chris Warren made it to the NFL.

In fact, he played 11 seasons in the league with the Seattle Seahawks (eight years), Dallas Cowboys (three) and Philadelphia Eagles (for one game). He even rushed for a then-Seahawks record and AFC-leading 1,545 yards and 1994 and scored a then-team record and AFC-leading 15 touchdowns in 1995.

He had never heard of a situation like this, where a former player sued the university and its coach for these reasons.

“This is the first I’ve heard of this situation, but harassment and abuse is not the way to success in any aspect of life,” said the three-time Pro Bowl running back. “The NCAA is big business and the athletes need to stand up for themselves. Some sort of representation or rules [need to be put] in place to protect student-athletes from situations like this if in fact it’s the truth.”

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