Junior Seau was the face of the San Diego Chargers throughout the 1990’s. Seau was to the Chargers as Ray Lewis is to the Baltimore Ravens. He made plays on defense that made you OMG. Sadly Seau took his own life in May, only two years after retiring from the NFL. The questions started right away is it concussion related, head trauma related? Well the answer to that question is a loud yes. Seau suffered from CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
CTE is caused from multiple head traumas, such as concussions. CTE has been found in boxers and now more and more ex NFL players. The progressive disease is found post-mortem.
Seau has joined a list of pro athletes that have committed suicide or murder suicide. Chris Benoit, did the unthinkable by taking the lives of his young son and his wife before his own. Former Chicago Bears All-Pro Safety Dave Dureson committed suicide in February 2011. He so believed the trauma his brain took during his playing days caused his death he shot himself in the chest so his brain could be examined. Chris Henry, who died in a domestic dispute didn’t die from CTE related injuries. Yet he had signs of CTE which could have pushed him over the edge.
Toward the end of Seau’s life he became distant and non talkative, says ex-wife Gina Seau. “The difference with Junior … from an emotional standpoint (was) how detached he became emotionally,” Gina said. “It was so obvious to me because early, many, many years ago, he used to be such a phenomenal communicator. If there was a problem in any relationship, whether it was between us or a relationship with one of his coaches or teammates or somewhere in the business world, he would sit down and talk about it.”
Seau’s son Sydney, who is a freshman and USC, his dad’s alma-mater has said “It definitely hurts a little bit because football was part of our lives, our childhood, for such a long time. And to hear that his passion for the sport inflicted and impacted our lives, it does hurt. And I wish it didn’t, because we loved it just as much as he did. And to see that this was the final outcome is really bittersweet and really sad.”
The NFL is being sued by over 4,000 retired/ex players of head trauma. The suit states that the NFL ignored and denied the link between head trauma and football, even after CTE was found in former players.
Seau’s brain was given to the National Institute of Health to be examined in Washington D.C. The NFL released a statement on the NIH’s findings. “The NIH’s finding underscores the recognized need for additional research to accelerate a fuller understanding of CTE. The NFL, both directly and in partnership with the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and other leading organizations, is committed to supporting a wide range of independent medical and scientific research that will both address CTE and promote the long-term health and safety of athletes at all levels. The NFL clubs have already committed a $30 million research grant to the NIH, and we look forward to making decisions soon with the NFL Players Association on the investment of $100 million for medical research that is committed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. We have work to do, and we’re doing it.”
Seau’s death may be the biggest so far , but it won’t be the last, as there is another era of players starting to retire. Hopefully no more ex players or innocent victims lose their lives to this disease. The loss of life is always sad, and even harder to understand when it comes out of nowhere. If Seau had a message in his suicide it was most likely to watch after those that came after him. Protect them and help them as much as the NFL can. Football is violent, it’s what we crave to see, the big hits. It is what sells the NFL, as fans we have to realize that these players are human, they are fathers, sons, brothers, uncles. Sure I love seeing James Harrison crack any Cleveland Brown as hard as he can, but not at the expense of either players future. This is the future of the NFL and I think a positive move forward. By Steve Kish