Remembering the Fallen #55
May 3, 2012, 10:44 am
The sports world is stunned, shocked, over the apparent suicide of former NFL player Junior Seau. It has not only placed a lot in perspective, but has again highlighted the long-term risks of concussions and repeated brain injuries. Those who knew him, respected him, adored him, weigh in.
Seau, one of the game's fiercest strikers during a career that included 12 Pro Bowls, is the third retired player in the last 15 months to shoot himself to death. Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling preceded him, and both suffered from depressions and complications from concussions sustained during their careers.
Seau, who played as a linebacker for the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots, died of what authorities believe was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. His family and friends told the press they were “stunned and shocked.”
If something was troubling Junior Seau, he told no one – not even his closest friends and family.
Seau’s death is yet another in a string of former NFL players who have committed suicide, leading to a lot of people to ask questions and place a microscope and spotlight under certain NFL policies and oversight.
One of the things is through brain testing, something Dave Duerson did. Duerson, who also shot himself in the chest, specifically requested that his brain be donated to science so researchers could study the damage repeated concussions had had on his brain. The Boston University researchers who conducted the brain autopsy found evidence that Duerson suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
CTE is a progressive degenerative disease that is caused by repeated head injuries. People with CTE may have symptoms such as dementia, headaches, tremors, confusion, aggression and depression.
According to reports, the researchers have already requested to examine Seau’s brain, as well. Though there is little documentation that Seau had a history of concussions, it is difficult to discount the idea that he may have suffered from CTE like Duerson, according to one sports trauma expert.
When the injuries are suffered repeatedly over time, it becomes more and more difficult for the brain to recover from the imbalance, and the condition can potentially become permanent or even worsen over time.
Seau was the type who refused to leave the field, regardless of his physical condition. He played in an AFC Championship Game with a stinger that prevented him from raising his arm above his shoulder. He partially tore his hamstring one Sunday, but stayed in the game despite being noticeably hindered. Another time he shot up an ankle at least 18 times so he wouldn't miss a game. To think he didn't play through multiple concussions would be naive at best.
Patriots' owner Robert Kraft has released a statement with his thoughts and memories of linebacker Junior Seau, who died on Wednesday at 43.
Here is the text of the statement:
"Every day, Junior Seau greeted his teammates and coaches with an energetic ’Hey, Buddy!’ It was genuine, enthusiastic and backed by his radiant smile. For four seasons, after every game he played, he would always find me in the locker room just to give me a big hug and squeeze tighter than anyone I remember. It was one of the many things I enjoyed about him. He was passionate about football and always spoke with great conviction. He may have been one of the most charismatic Patriots player in franchise history. I loved listening to him when he addressed an audience. I will never forget presenting him with his AFC Championship ring at Seau’s Restaurant in San Diego before our game against the Chargers in 2008. It was a memorable moment shared by both Patriots and Chargers fans, who that day celebrated pregame together as Junior Seau fans. He was beloved in his hometown of San Diego and quickly became a fan favorite in New England. Today, the fans of the teams for which Junior played — San Diego, Miami and New England — lost more than a legendary football player. We lost our ’Buddy.’ My thoughts and prayers are with his family and I extend my sincere condolences to his many friends and former teammates."
NFL Offensive Lineman Saint and former Notre Dame Irish Eric Olsen shared a touching story over Twitter last night, as well.
"Wow this is a tough one. When I was a frosh in HS Junior Seau worked the Jay Fiedler Football camp and at the end of one of the days he challenged anyone to a 1 on 1. Being one of the 'big' kids, I was volunteered by my buddies and went up in front of the whole camp to face this monster of a man. Shaking in my cleats, he gave me a wink before a coach gave the cadence. He let me pancake him. And he sold it too. I can't even tell you how good I felt at that moment; it changed me forever. The whole camp cheered for me, a chubby kid that didn't know if he even liked football. From then on I was addicted. All thanks 2 this 10 time all-pro that felt like making some snot-nosed kid's day. Doesn't seem like much but it meant a lot to me. Sorry for the essay just had to share. RIP Junior I'll never forget what you did for me."
Check out this morning's interviews with guys who called his games and played with him.
In case you missed it, check out John Canzano's conversation with Seau's former coach Bobby Ross