As fans hear more and more about the health concerns that football brings — whether it be threats of CTE, the physical toll hits can take or the in-game injuries that players suffer relentlessly — it seems as if the players who work the hardest and play with the highest energy are the ones that would be most susceptible to injury.
Not for former Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker.
“I got a common question a lot at the combine, at the senior bowl, and it was ‘Strike, would change anything in your career when you look back on it?’ and I said no, simply because I'm very proud of myself because I haven’t been hurt,” Striker said. “I've been playing the game for like 17 years, since little league.
“I have not had one injury.”
Striker had a moment of reflection in front of the media after OU's Pro Day March 9 at the Everest Training Center that left him thankful for how well his body has held up, considering he is known more than anything as a high-energy pass rusher.
“I'm just proud of that,” Striker said, “because there's a lot of guys that can't do everything, they can't do what they want to do because they're injured. But regardless of this stuff that's going on — drills, 40-yard dash — I'm very proud to say that I have never had an injury and I'm still able to move around and do the things that I've been doing, competing at a high level in Oklahoma and playing against the best of the best. And I'm really proud of that.”
Throughout the morning, during which Striker went through a number of drills with fellow linebackers in front of NFL scouts and coaches, his play backed up something he said following his workout — he’s right there.
“Another reason I said I wouldn't change anything is because I'm at a position where a lot of people want to be,” Striker said, chest boasted, eyes welling with confidence. “It's been a dream to play in the NFL, and it's very close and I’m right here, so that common question I get. ‘Would you change anything?' I wouldn't change a dang thing.”
As scouts clamored over the draft prospect that had 7.5 sacks and 19 tackles-for-loss last season, Striker credited his health to himself.
“There's no wood to knock on, but I wouldn't knock on anything because I have a philosophy that goes, ‘if you go hard, you don't get hurt’ and I think that's been my philosophy since high school,” Striker said. “I always thought I never got hurt because I always finished and went hard. And I'm not saying nothing about any other guys because a lot of injuries, you know, they just kind of happen and you can't do nothing about it, but that's what it's been in my brain. And that's the way I've been living and I haven't had an injury.”
As the senior transitions from his final days at Oklahoma to hoping for a shot at football as a profession, the charming, lovable, and as he puts it, villain, was nothing but thankful for his fortune in such a physical sport.
“I’m here, I'm happy, I'm very healthy," he said. “I'm very close to my dream.”