Just weeks before the Super Bowl, new test results have proven that Junior Seau, the star player who committed suicide last spring, suffered CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a form of brain disease increasingly associated with football. The news about Seau’s brian damage came after his family donated his brain to the National Institute of Health to be studied, where it was found that the former star NFL defense player suffered serious brain damage as a result of repeated hits to his head in the game.
Seau–football’s iconic “monster in the middle” in the 1990′s–committed suicide at 43 years old in May of 2012, leaving behind four kids and his ex-wife, all of whom shared close relationships with him prior to his death.
His family spoke to ABC News and ESPN about his struggle with depression prior to his death, and their response to the NIH findings. His ex-wife, Gina Seau, who he stayed close with following their divorce, told ABC that they “just wanted the truth,” and that “he loved the game, but I know that he didn’t love the end of his life.”
His son reflected that “it played a huge effect, just him not being aware of the things that he could possibly go through,” referring to his father’s risk of brain damage throughout his long career in the NFL.
Unfortunately, CTE and brain damage aren’t an anomaly in football; it’s only becoming more common, and more controversial as an increasing number of autopsies demonstrate cases like Junior Seau’s CTE that are caused not by a major blow on the field, but a series of small hits that cause big brain damage. For some, that’s reason enough to hate the sport; others are determined to find ways to keep players on the field, and better protect their heads.
What do you think? Does this cast a shadow over Super Bowl fun?
Photo: Wikimedia Commons