Junior Seau (Photo credit: Dave Sizer)
Junior Seau was a defensive star most notably in the 90’s for the San Diego Chargers. He played middle linebacker. In May, he shot himself in the chest. Before he killed himself he sent a text to his wife and children telling them simply: “I love you.” Seau’s family donated his brain to neuroscientists at the National Institutes for Health who are conducting ongoing research on traumatic brain injury and football players.
ABC News reports that a team of independent researchers who did not know they were studying Seau’s brain all concluded he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease typically caused by multiple hits to the head.
His ex-wife states that they remained close after the divorce, but that Seau became “detached emotionally” from their children. In one exchange he described his mood as “low” and “dark.”
Junior Seau, she said, was never formally diagnosed with a concussion but routinely complained of symptoms associated with concussions after receiving hits to the head during games and in practices in 20 seasons in the NFL.
Since his death his sons have stopped playing football. They said the risk isn’t worth it.
The NFL says it is doing all it can to combat current NFL players from experiencing the deadly disease. New protocols for players experiencing concussions have been strictly enforced these past few seasons.
I found the last image with one of his sons wearing his jersey powerful because his kids have grown up not only idolizing their father, but trying to emulate his football career from a young age.
Here’s my take:
Is it worth it for young boys to one day play football if they can potentially face this disease? I don’t know if I can answer this question. The NFL has changed its policies and hopefully is doing a better job to combat the disease. We won’t know if it proves successful for a few decades from now.
Would I allow my son or family member to play football? Since the birth of my first nephew I’ve said I want him to play for my Chicago Bears. I don’t know if I feel as passionate today as I was two years ago. It ultimately is his decision. I think young boys should know the risks of playing football. As for allowing my son to play football…if I were to have a son I would encourage him to do what he feels passionate about. I would though make sure he takes these recent suicides seriously. I would not allow him to continuously play after accumulating several concussions. I would urge him to quit. I would tell him to follow former Chicago Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer’s choice in where he retired early because he had accumulated several concussions in his short career.
Would you allow your son to play football?