Boston University’s Center for Traumatic Encephalopathy has studied the brains of many deceased football players and almost always found injuries consistent with repeated blows to the head. Now the Center wants to examine the brain of Junior Seau.
Peter King reports that the researchers in Boston are attempting to obtain Seau’s brain.
The death of Seau, who killed himself with a gunshot to the chest, has reminded many of the death of former NFL player Dave Duerson, who also killed himself with a gunshot to the chest and who left a note asking for his brain to be examined to see whether the depression that plagued him late in life could be linked to brain damage he suffered on the football field. The Boston researchers determined that Duerson did, in fact, show signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma.
One of the rather shocking developments in football over the last couple years has been the way the words “chronic traumatic encephalopathy” have seeped into the lexicon. It’s long been accepted that if you follow football you know that ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament and MCL stands for medial collateral ligament. Knowing that CTE stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy feels different, feels like something we can’t just accept as part of the cost of doing business in the NFL.
If the Boston researchers find that Seau suffered from CTE, and if they believe that CTE precipitated Seau’s suicide, that could be a watershed moment in the way we view the sport, and its effect on those who play it. This is research that should be done, even if it reveals information that makes all of us very uncomfortable about the game we love.