The Truth About Seau

English: New England Patriots linebacker Junio...

Junior during his stint with the Patriots (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In May 2012, NFL fans received shocking news that 20-year veteran and defensive superstar Junior Seau committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest. Even the people who knew Seau the best had no idea why he would do such a thing, but today some of their questions were answered.

Gina Seau and her son Tyler just revealed to ABC News and ESPN that Seau suffered from a brain disease known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). According to a recent ESPN report, CTE is a “progressive disease associated with repeated head trauma.”

In other words, all those back-breaking hits Seau put on opposing offenses eventually led to his ultimate demise. And Seau certainly isn’t the first athlete to feel the mental and physical effects of playing a contact sport. A slew of other athletes in football, hockey, boxing and other combative sports have reported similar issues for decades. Fortunately, the NFL and other athletic organizations are finally taking notice.

After hearing the news of Seau’s condition, the NFL released a statement and indicated that $30 million in grants had been committed by its teams to the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and other medical organizations to support their research.

With any luck, these researchers will find a solution to this growing problem. And I do know that the NFL is testing new helmets in an effort to reduce the effects of head trauma, but they have not yet become standard equipment. Only a handful of players are currently using them, in fact. And as far as I know, there hasn’t been any research into how helpful they really are.

On a personal note, I must say that Junior Seau was one of my favorite NFL players of all time. Defense is something I absolutely love and when it came to cleaning people’s clocks on the field, Seau was the master. He spent two decades in the league and left an indelible impression not only on football, but on sports in general.

He was one hell of a role model, too.


A memorial to Seau just after his death (Photo credit: TejasCalifas)

What disturbs me most about Junior Seau, aside from his tragic and baffling suicide, is that he exhibited clear symptoms for a number of years before finally choosing to take his own life. For instance, Erik Brady and David Moore of USA Today reported that for years, Seau was unable to sleep and had to rely on a number of very strong sleep aids. I’m sure he had some cognitive issues, as well, even though nothing specific was ever reported.

It’s obviously too late to save Junior Seau and athletes who have already sustained enough damage to cause long-term problems, but I hope steps are taken soon to protect all future athletes. They may choose to play these “physical” sports themselves, but that doesn’t mean the same sports should kill them.

And to be honest, I don’t know anyone who would be satisfied just watching golf and tennis. I’m afraid that’s where we’re headed if something doesn’t change soon.

Posted on January 11, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I am a Chargers fan and Seau was always one of my favorite players, on and off the field. Thanks for posting this.

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