Skip to comments.Another life cut short by an unforgiving game [Junior Seau]
Posted on 05/03/2012 4:17:30 AM PDT by No One Special
Professional football should come with a warning label. Like cigarettes, football can be hazardous to your health ... and all too frequently lately it can be fatal.
If the sad truth of Junior Seaus tragic death yesterday is that it came by his own hand, as Oceanside, Calif., police believe was the case, he is only the latest example of the ravages of a sport whose concussive demands seem to be regularly destroying its own.
Only a week ago, Ray Easterling, a former defensive back with the Atlanta Falcons, took his life in similar fashion with a handgun that lay by his side when his wife found his body inside their home in Richmond, Va. Seau was found similarly in a bedroom overlooking the Pacific Ocean by his girlfriend yesterday morning.
Like ex-Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, who took his life a year ago, Seau apparently shot himself in the chest. In Duersons case a note he left made clear he had done so to preserve his brain for study by a Boston University medical team tying head trauma in sports to the presence of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a protein buildup in the brain causing progressive degenerative deterioration.
The accumulation of tau protein kills certain parts of the brain related to impulse control and results in dementia, early onset Alzheimers, memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression. Often it leads to suicide.
Easterling was the lead plaintiff in the first of what has become an avalanche of lawsuits filed by more than 1,000 retired NFL players against the league, charging it with knowingly and willingly ignoring information tying concussions with long-term brain damage. According to the Easterling lawsuit filed last August, the NFL continuously and vehemently denied that it knew, should have known or believed that there is any relationship between NFL players suffering concussions while playing ... and long-term problems such as headaches, dizziness, dementia and/or Alzheimers disease that many retired players have experienced.
Easterling, 62, allegedly suffered bouts of depression, insomnia and other symptoms linked to repeated head trauma for 20 years before being diagnosed a year ago with dementia. Seau was 43 when he took his life, barely three years after the end of a 20-year NFL career in which he was a 12-time Pro Bowl selection and the definition of the often misused term first ballot Hall of Famer.
He felt like his brain was falling off, Easterlings wife, Mary Ann, told foxsports.com after his death. He was losing control.
Now we have Seau, a gentle bear of a man known in San Diego not only for his exemplary playing career but also for his charitable foundation begun 20 years ago and for a popular restaurant that bore his name. He had, it would seem, everything to live for, but ended up alone and despairing in his final minutes after having texted his ex-wife, Gina DeBoer, and their three children individually I love you the previous day.
None thought much of it beyond appreciating that expression, but late yesterday DeBoer responded to the tragedy on her Facebook page with one word: lost.
There is so much pain in that one word and in Seaus passing. Anyone who knew him quickly recognized his passion for football and life, a man easily approachable and openly kind, even to strangers.
Now he is gone in a haze very likely caused by the savagery of the game he loved. Pro football and the men who run it have much to think about this morning beyond grief. They have to think about where their game is headed.
The loss of this great athlete, and, by all accounts, exemplary human being is tragic - and doubly so since it gives ammunition to the “zero tolerance for risk”, “wrap in cotton cradle-to-the-grave” proponents...
But trying to imply that football was responsible is total bs. The rate for teen suicide is higher than any other group, but using this guys logic implies that you just should’t be a teen.
To compare apples to apples, how does the suicide rate among former NFL players compare to that of former major league baseball players? I don’t know but would be interested in finding out.
To indicate my bias, I detest football, it’s an ugly game in my view. And I think baseball is the finest sport ever conceived by the mind of man. But that’s just me.
Nobody took more blows to the head than Muhammed Ali, He may be punchy , but he hasn’t killed himself.
That is not accurate. According to NIMH, the highest rate (14.3 per 100,000) is for people 65 and older. The next highest is ages 20-24, followed by 15-19.
The author's logic is correct, as far as it goes. If men from age groups that are less likely to commit suicide are doing so in unexpected numbers, then perhaps they have a significant factor in common: a factor such as head trauma. This reasoning doesn't prove the causation, but the article says physical studies and other research are being done on the subject.
-—Seau was 43 when he took his life, barely three years after the end of a 20-year NFL career in which he was a 12-time Pro Bowl selection.——
My guess is post-retirement depression (which usually manifests itself in a new career of drug-dealing). His first suicide attempt came the year after he retired.
I heard Fred Smerlas talk about the phenomenon this morning.
If I were trying to ruin America...I’d blame the NFL for every former player’s suicide.
How long ago was he divorced and what role does the divorce play in the suicide? Seems that would be a far more proximate cause than football.
(Please note that concussions do need to be watched out for, and I believe the NFL is doing a better job of that. I don’t believe that concussions lead directly to suicide for these guys who have everything else going for them though)
I’m with you, OP. I LOVE baseball. Football, not so much.
Nobody took more blows to the head than Muhammed Ali,
A good response to this article. And something else could be related to the demise of some of these pro’s.... all the wealth poured up-on these athletes should be considered. Not many can grasp or hold on to money. Often, many end in debt’s (phy) they cannot repay.
And why did he love the game? And why was he so good at it? Yah, he was one tough SOB willing to give it as much as take it. Pro football is not for the faint of heart, but if they change it so that it is for the faint of heart in order to try and prevent CTE....well...guys like Seau probably won't want to play it, and a lot of fans won't want to watch it.
Ali didn’t box weekend after weekend after weekend, year after year after year. Bad comparison.
I’m not one to tell people what to do with themselves, as long as their actions don’t unduly affect others, but the human body wasn’t made to endure football. Anyone who doesn’t recognize that is in dreamland.
Even if I thought it was fun to watch, I wouldn’t. I consider it to much like the roman gladiator games. I wont amuse myself that way.
“..guys like Seau probably won’t want to play it, and a lot of fans won’t want to watch it. “
It’s almost unwatchable now, with a rule book that rivals the US Tax Code for convolution and complexity, compounded by Instant Replay — and, increasingly, the involvement of lawyers in the minutae of the game...
Ali didn’t wear a helmet either.
You and I, both. And the denial here shown by some is disturbing.
That said, I'd be at least as worried about the effect of playing football on the developing brain.
First — it’s very sad to hear of his death. He seemed like a good guy.
Second — who thinks they can repeatedly hit their head on something(s) and come out ok afterward? Esp. when it happens for weeks on end, year after year. It does not take ‘studies’ to figure out that, gee, multiple concussions can’t be good for brain matter.
So, on the one hand: lots of money, fame, etc. On the other, brain damage. I think NFL players picked their poison.
George Chuvalo (The Rock) certainly did, and many of them at the hands of Ali, whom he fought twice. Despite that, George's speech and thought is still as clear as a bell.