In a joint report from ABC News and ESPN, it has been revealed that longtime San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau suffered chronic brain damage after his brain was examined by the National Institutes of Health. Seau’s brain tested positive for tested positive for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, which is a condition that can lead to “dementia, memory loss and depression.”
Seau took his own life last May, just two years after retiring from the league.
Doctors told Seau’s family that “a lot of head-to-head collisions over the course of 20 years of playing in the NFL” led to the CTE diagnosis “and that it gradually, you know, developed the deterioration of his brain and his ability to think logically.”
Seau’s became shut off from those around him in the months leading up to his suicide. Prior to that, Seau was beloved by all and would not hesitate to talk to everyone around him.
“The difference with Junior & from an emotional standpoint (was) how detached he became emotionally,” his ex-wife Gina Seau 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.”
It was an unfortunate end to the life of a great man and great athlete, but it is also a harsh reminder of the reality of the game.
Football is a small part of life, however, it can have a lasting impact that could change the way the athletes live forever. Players understand the risks of the game when they sign up to play, but sometimes they need to be saved from their own desire to play despite the injury.
This news will spark the latest call for player safety and the prevention of helmet-to-helmet his. While we may not like how the added rules for player safety are “changing the game,” we need to remember the cases like Seau’s. Maybe, just maybe, those yellow flags could end up saving someone’s life later down the road and we need to accept that.
You can read the full ESPN article HERE and be sure to tune in to Outside the Lines on ESPN Thursday afternoon at 3:00 pm E.T.