Junior Seau Apparently Takes Own Life

Boston Globe:

Junior Seau, a 43-year old 12-time NFL Pro Bowl linebacker, was found dead today in his home, the result of a gunshot wound, police confirmed. Police are investigating the shooting at the Oceanside, Calif., residence of the former New England Patriot and San Diego Chargers football star as a suicide. Police confirmed that Seau was found by his girlfriend at his beachfront home with a gunshot wound to his chest.

While the article references the suicide of Dave Duerson, regular readers know that I was a high school teammate of Andre Waters, the former Eagle, who also took his own life. The implications of an NFL career are believed to be related.

Condolences to the Seau family, and some hard thinking about professional football is in order.

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    Just saw Marcellus Wiley on ESPN (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Dadler on Wed May 02, 2012 at 03:45:27 PM EST
    In tears, talking about being in such denial when he heard the news that he texted Junior in the hopes that he'd get an answer and that it was all just a hoax.  

    Talk about a player who fought through injuries. Guy dished out and took more punishment than any body should.  And who knows what other injuries, concussions included, that we never knew about.


    Shame (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by ks on Wed May 02, 2012 at 04:44:51 PM EST
    R.I.P.  I'm surprised but not surprised.  There seems to be a "dark period" a lot these guys enter shortly after their playing days that make them particularly vunerable to all sorts of bad outcomes.  Condolences to his family.

    I doubt all the damage is caused (none / 0) (#1)
    by me only on Wed May 02, 2012 at 03:23:43 PM EST
    by professional football.  College football and high school football generates concussions as well.

    This is so very sad. Seau is survived by (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by caseyOR on Wed May 02, 2012 at 03:33:13 PM EST
    a daughter and two sons, all teenagers. My heart goes out to the family.

    The NFL is, IMO, guilty of criminal neglect in the matter of player safety. The NFL has denied the danger to the long-term health of the players for way too long. And even now is doing way too little to mitigate this danger.

    Yeah, sure, football is a dangerous sport. It doesn't have to be this dangerous, though. I, for one, am seriously rethinking my football fandom.


    Ugh, his poor family (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by ruffian on Wed May 02, 2012 at 06:01:23 PM EST
    So sad for everyone.

    If football was at all involved I hope they find a way to get help to these guys.


    with his NFL career. I assume there will be more information in the coming days.

    OK, probably a little pollyannaish of me. (none / 0) (#6)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed May 02, 2012 at 03:53:53 PM EST
    Jr was one of my heroes...

    Helluva player... (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Wed May 02, 2012 at 05:10:20 PM EST
    sad news.

    You could tell he really loved the game as well and as hard as he played it.


    Ah jeez. (none / 0) (#2)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed May 02, 2012 at 03:30:13 PM EST

    Junior Seau's had other issues ... (none / 0) (#7)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed May 02, 2012 at 04:31:20 PM EST
    ... besides potential lingering physical trauma from pro football, which include occasional runs-in with the law over the type of family domestic violence matters that so often seem to plague people of Pacific Islander ancestry.

    (If we have one lingering criminal issue out here in Hawaii, it's with domestic violence, which is literally epidemic in our Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Tongan and Micronesian communities. This is entirely anecdotal, of course, but it seems to me that this ready resort to fisticuffs as a means of conflict resolution is almost an inherent part of Polynesian and Micronesian cultures, far more so than in other peoples out here. Further, it's not just men beating on women, but vice versa, as well adults beating on children and vice versa.)

    Seau retired in 2010, and could've been suffering from depression during the transition to post-football life. Retirement-related bouts of clinical depression are certainly not unique to football players. Suffice to say that depression is a self-absorbing affliction which can suck the air out of the room, rendering victims unable to focus outwardly for any length of time -- sometimes to the point where the selfish act of suicide appears the only rational way to obtain relief from the anguish and torment.

    I can only hope that Junior Seau has finally found the peace that he was so painfully missing in this lifetime. My sincere condolences to his family, espcially his children.

    Concussion and resultant (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by Zorba on Wed May 02, 2012 at 04:42:34 PM EST
    traumatic brain injury has been tied to subsequent depression, Donald.  See:  link, link, and link.
    Among others.  Just Google it.  

    Yes (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by ks on Wed May 02, 2012 at 05:04:04 PM EST
    And when you add the chronic physical pain a lot of these guys suffer from along with not having  the physical and emotional support they had during their playing days, it's quite a whammy.

    Your post bums me out (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Thu May 03, 2012 at 09:35:09 AM EST
    There's something to shooting yourself in the chest so that your brain can be studied.  Imagine the pain suffered for someone to not only kill themselves to finally end it, but kill themselves in a very specific way so that we can understand and perhaps others can be saved the same suffering and pain.

    Piles of soldiers are coming home with TBI and sadly becoming uncharacteristically violent with their family members too as time wears on and the trauma takes its toll.  And my own father suffers from a TBI, nobody knew what to expect but I've lived how it changed my dad.


    I have a friend whose son went to Kosovo, (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Angel on Thu May 03, 2012 at 11:48:40 AM EST
    Afghanistan and Iraq in his position in the military police.  He's back home in the states now and has already attempted suicide.  He is in a terrible state and we're just waiting for him to accomplish his mission.  The things he saw and experienced changed him from a happy, married father to a crumbling heap of nightmares and agony.  Thank you George Bush and Dick Cheney.  

    I'm not sure what can be done for (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Militarytracy on Thu May 03, 2012 at 01:12:09 PM EST
    severe PTSD either. The long term prognosis is not good and we knew this when Bush took us into Iraq.  Youth comes with its particular risk in this area, as their frontal lobe is still forming and forming one in a war zone can be very scarring.  Older soldiers can most often end up with what is termed as a generalized anxiety disorder.  This is what I see and experience most often in the pilots.  Everybody thought that pilots should be PTSD free though, and they are not.  The initial onset of the symptoms is very different for all of them.  Some are really off the wall, others milder.  My husband suffered more mildly. They all come home unable to sleep it seems, particularly at first.  They were fine becoming accustomed to the world being on fire around them, it is when their world gets quiet again and they can't get quiet when we all first begin to understand that something has been probably forever altered.

    researchers in Boston (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by CST on Thu May 03, 2012 at 12:42:12 PM EST
    have apparently asked for his brain.  That would make me somewhat uncomfortable - except you are probably right.  There is something that feels  very deliberate to shooting yourself in the chest.  Not the obvious or easy way to go.

    This sad news... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Thu May 03, 2012 at 09:50:04 AM EST
    got me thinking about combat veterans and the similarities...the high suicide rate, the great risk to life and limb.  And the differences...soldiers do it for a miniscule fraction of the wage, with none of the great joy that comes from playing football.  

    The part that bums me out (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Thu May 03, 2012 at 10:54:46 AM EST
    on Donalds post is the part where he links Seau's relationship difficulties to the fact that he is a Pacific Islander.  I guess all these soldiers coming home with TBI and beating up on other people and their family members and having run ins with the law is related to them being Americans and has nothing to do with the fact that they are injured Americans :)

    I think there are similarities (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Thu May 03, 2012 at 10:43:23 AM EST
    And as we study it more we will understand a lot more.  They are currently looking for biomarkers, trying to identify earlier on who is going to not heal well from the brain injuries.  They seem to believe at this time that your genetics are also involved.

    I would have to guess that my father has some pretty superior DNA were brain injury is concerned.  He sustained a severe brain injury.

    What we do know though across the board is that aging is where the big cracks begin to appear.  An injured brain does not age well.  I've witnessed it with my father, and our friend who is a researcher in physiology and psychology here at Fort Rucker confirmed it when I spoke to him about it.

    I can't say that soldiers don't experience joys though kdog.  Some don't of course.  Most begin when they are very young.  I have no doubt that many signed up after 9/11 and when they got into it hated every minute of it.  Some people were born to serve though, it fills them with joy every day.  But no....there won't be millions of dollars paid to them for the risks to their health and well being that are taken.


    I love that they think... (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Dadler on Thu May 03, 2012 at 11:38:59 AM EST
    ...humans are machine-like enough that you could actually predict from genetic markers who will "recover" from essentially the worst kind of trauma an adult can experience.  You can always scan the brain and see where activity is taking place, what you can never do, we're not even in the ballpark now anyway, is quantify any of it.  The degree to which emotional trauma will affect any one individual is beholden to MANY more factors than what kind of oil filter your C.O. thinks you take.

    You take what someone is born with, you add one life experience, and THEN you get a result.  Life happens first, not chemistry, save the very rare and genuinely imbalanced personality from birth.

    That said, I worry about my little brother every day.  I know he's holding a lot of sh*t inside of him from his tours of duty in Iraq and Afg.  I worry every minute of every day.  Because I know, where we come from, he is not really equipped to handle it as well as other people would be.  We hope, we hope, we hope...


    Didn't mean to imply... (none / 0) (#18)
    by kdog on Thu May 03, 2012 at 11:20:25 AM EST
    soldiers live some kind of joyless existence...just that it can't be fun like playing football is fun.  Football is a game, the military is no joke, expecially when sent to fight and kill and maybe die, double especially when sent to fight and kill and occupy and maybe die for shady reasons.

    I wouldn't be a soldier for a million bucks a year, but I would play football for a living and take the risks for 40 grand a year, never mind 400 grand or 4 million.


    I think the difference is (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by CST on Thu May 03, 2012 at 12:05:38 PM EST
    also if you're having too much fun in the military we recognize it as a problem.

    I think one of the problems with professional football is that it is a "game".  A game to physically beat the living cr@p out of people.  Maybe if we started recognizing the consequences as real - we'll see that it's not as far off from gladiater fighting as we think.


    a bit too much judgement in this (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by CST on Thu May 03, 2012 at 12:09:14 PM EST
    I don't mean to say it's a problem to have fun beating the cr@p out of someone.  Lord knows, that's what siblings are for.  But when you think of the consequences as being real, and possibly fatal - like in the military - maybe you view it a bit differently.

    I never saw it as that far off... (none / 0) (#28)
    by kdog on Thu May 03, 2012 at 01:42:56 PM EST
    from gladiator games. I, for one, have no illusions about how brutal the sport is, but I still love it.  I love boxing too.  I don't think the pros in those brutal sports have any illusions anymore either, the science is well known.

    Even in my little rec-league touch football world I get a small glimpse of what the game I love can do...our QB on one rebuilt knee and one full knee replacement, other guys with rebuilt knees, 8 weeks in a cast and pins in broken ankles, getting your bell rung and seeing stars.  We're all gonna feel it and pay for it in old age, if we don't die before then getting hit by a bus.  You're an athlete, I'm sure you see it in soccer and skiing...the knees, the ankles, banging heads going for headers or taking spills.  We know the risks, and we do it anyway.  Amatuers like us because it's so much damn fun we make the trade-off...the pros for the same reason, and the stupid fat paycheck.

    I don't mean to sound flippant or insensitive, post-concussion syndrome and brain damage is horrible sh*t to suffer.  But at the end of the day we all die...some people choose the "killing themselves to live" path and I can relate to that.  


    Yea (none / 0) (#29)
    by CST on Thu May 03, 2012 at 02:17:05 PM EST
    I do love skiing.  And man, it does seem like all year you just hear story after story of someone crashing badly and ending it all.  And my body is certainly breaking down because of it.  Let's not even talk about soccer.  I still don't know how I've reached this age and still have all my original ligaments.

    Football to me is still a bit different though, it's more aggressive.  Because the injuries are not self inflicted, they are caused by someone doing you bodiy harm.  Repeatedly.  I guess that's where I'm trying to draw the parallels.  We expect people in the military to have some remorse or empathy about hurting someone.  In football I'm not sure we're there yet.  You are still supposed to hit harder and faster, and in some cases maybe intentionally injure.  It's not just about what you're doing to your own body, it's also about what you're doing to others when you play.

    I dunno, I love football.  But the culture that surrounds it is problematic.  I don't know how to stop being a part of the problem, or if it's even possible with a sport like that.  There's a reason we stopped having gladiaters fight to the death.  I'm pretty sure the reason was not that it became less "entertaining".  Is there a way to make a sport like that safe?  Should we even bother?  I don't know but I bet there are a lot of football player's spouses/kids asking that question every day.


    No easy answers, to be sure.... (none / 0) (#30)
    by kdog on Thu May 03, 2012 at 03:02:39 PM EST
    I don't think football can ever be "safe" without making it flag football.  But there are things the league can do and has done to try and minimize the damage done.  No more sending a guy back in the game with smelling salts after getting knocked out cold, for example.

    I am very curious if getting rid of the rock hard weapon-like helmets would help...go back to the leather helmet no face guard days and guys will stop leading with their heads right quick.  A head injury comparison between rugby and football would be interesting to look at.


    Former rugby player here. (none / 0) (#31)
    by caseyOR on Thu May 03, 2012 at 05:19:49 PM EST
    Rugby is much less violent than American football (AF). Oh sure, there is tackling and maybe some blood on a few players. Still, the rules make it a safer game.

    In rugby, unlike AF, only the person with the ball can be tackled. You don't see players crashing into other players and smashing them to the ground.

    Rugby doesn't really stop. There is no resetting of the line a scrimmage after each play. So, there are no front lines crashing into each other every few minutes. When the two sides in a rugby scrum come together they interweave. The goal is to push the other side back off the ball, get the ball out and toss it to the backs who then take off running, passing the ball back and forth to get down field and score a try. There is no payoff to crashing into the other players.

    There is a whole lot of running in rugby. You play two forty minute halts with no timeouts, except for injury. You spend most of that time running.

    The only protective gear I wore was a mouth guard. Some player wore shin guards. That was it. No helmets, no pads. No false sense of safety because of all the "protective gear".

    I have played neighborhood football, and I have played rugby. Rugby is by far the superior, smarter, safer game.


    a number of years after. I'm bone on bone in one shoulder due to rugby injury, but I never got my bell rung in rugby, unlike football. I played on the the wing and scrumhalf.

    A colleague played rugby. Once his eye (none / 0) (#34)
    by oculus on Thu May 03, 2012 at 08:01:33 PM EST
    came out of the socket, requiring extensive surgery.  Made a big impression.  No substitutions.  

    Never heard of anything like that before. (none / 0) (#36)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri May 04, 2012 at 11:09:14 AM EST
    Probably the most common rugby "ailment" is a hangover. Then again, we were just playing for fun, there was no money at stake...

    My knees are shot, and I have arthritis (none / 0) (#35)
    by caseyOR on Thu May 03, 2012 at 08:10:08 PM EST
    in my hands, knees and hips. Not unexpected conditions in a 60 year old who played sports. No serious injuries, though. And my bell remained unrung, also.

    I played in the front row. Tight head prop.


    not suck too badly, hopefully I'll avoid the opportunity to prove myself wrong...

    Dave Duerson committed suicide... (none / 0) (#13)
    by desertswine on Wed May 02, 2012 at 11:34:50 PM EST
    in the same manner as Seau.  The average lifespan of a football lineman is 52 yrs. They wind up with all sorts of problems both physical and mental.

    52 years.. (none / 0) (#23)
    by jondee on Thu May 03, 2012 at 12:36:00 PM EST
    And many, many that live longer live with chronic pain..

    I can only imagine what the life expectancy is for boxers..I don't even wanna kow.


    I'm not sure where the oft-quoted "52-55 years" life expectancy of football players actually came from.

    From the first med journal abstract that popped up by google:

    Moderate exercise and intense physical training are associated with increased life expectancy (LE).

    Boxing is characterized by intentional and repetitive head blows, sometimes causing brain injury, possibly reducing LE.

    We examined a sample of male athletes born between 1860 and 1930 selected from the international "hall of fame" inductees in baseball (n = 154), ice hockey (n = 130), tennis (n = 83), football (n = 81), boxing (n = 81), track and field (n = 59), basketball (n = 58), swimming (n = 37) and wrestling (n = 32). [...]

    Sports of different physiological demand were similar in respect to LE.

    No differences in LE were found related to occurrence and kind of impact.

    Similar LE was found in boxers of different weight or career records.

    In conclusion, this study indicates that LE in top-level athletes is unaffected by the type of discipline, and not related to physiological demand and intentional contact.

    Note that the Life Expectancy of football players is not significantly different from other sports (and certainly not 52-55 years).

    However, also note that sports athletes are a selected group, unlike the "average" American that their LE would be compared to.

    I would think the typical massive, bordering on obese, lineman would have a lower LE than the "average" American. Also Life Expectancy for males and blacks are both lower than the "average" American.


    In boxing, we analyzed the number of disputed bouts/rounds and career records.

    Sports were also analyzed according to physiological demand and occurrence and kind of contact (intentional, unintentional).

    The Kaplan-Meier product limit method was used to compare survival curves (significance: p <or= 0.05). <p> Median LE of the samples was 76.0 yrs and no differences were observed in different sports, although it was lower in boxers (73.0 yrs) and higher in tennis players (79.0 yrs).

    Junior Seau's death has been ruled a suicide by the San Diego County medical examiner's office.

    An autopsy Thursday confirmed that the former NFL linebacker died of a gunshot wound to the chest, the medical examiner's office said.

    The office said further details would be released in a final investigative report, which may take up to 90 days to complete.

    Los Angeles (CNN) -- Junior Seau's family (none / 0) (#38)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri May 04, 2012 at 12:20:28 PM EST
    Los Angeles (CNN) -- Junior Seau's family will let researchers study the former NFL linebacker's brain for evidence of trauma, San Diego Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell said Friday.

    Since news broke that the former Chargers linebacker killed himself Wednesday with a gunshot to the chest, there has been speculation about whether repeated hits to his head over his 20-year pro career could have been a contributing factor.

    The family made the decision to allow the research in hopes it will help NFL players and others in the future, Mitchell said.[...]

    While there was no evidence Seau suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease brought on by multiple concussions, friends and family have stepped forward to say the legendary linebacker suffered a number of hits to the head during his career.[...]

    The only way to determine if Seau suffered CTE is to analyze the brain tissue for "hallmarks of the dementia-like disease," Gupta said.

    "We can't know, unless Junior Seau's" brain is analyzed in this way, whether his death was related to CTE, he said.

    Though Seau had no reported documented history of concussions, Gupta said "the hits don't necessarily result in diagnosed concussion, but the brain is rattled over and over again."

    Seau family friend Joe Gallagher said the former linebacker made a comment recently that appeared to indicate a possible issue.

    "Junior had wanted to donate his brain to science to the study of concussive injuries," he told CNN affiliate KGTV of San Diego.