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Seau’s family considers donating brain for study

Is-Seaus-death-part-of-a-bigger-issue-VI1DP6AF-x-large Getty Images

Researchers in Boston want to study the brain of the late Junior Seau for evidence of Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy.  Seau’s family may decide to allow it.

Pastor Shawn Mitchell told Reuters that Seau’s family is “considering” the request.

Frankly, it would be a surprise if Seau’s brain doesn’t show evidence of CTE.  He played one of the game’s most violent positions for two full decades, repeatedly absorbing and delivering contact, often involving his helmet.  For 19.5 of those seasons, the NFL used a much more lax approach to ensuring that players with concussions were held out of practice and games while exhibiting symptoms.

The fact that Seau never had any documented issues with concussions doesn’t mean he never suffered concussions.  Former NFL linebacker Gary Plummer estimates that linebackers experience at least five low-grade concussions per game.  “Junior played for 20 years,” Plummer told the San Jose Mercury News.  “That’s five concussions a game, easily.  How many in his career then?  That’s over 1,500 concussions.  I know that’s startling, but I know it’s true.  I had over 1,000 in my 15 years.  I felt the effects of it.  I felt depression going on throughout my divorce.  Junior went through it with his divorce.”

The broader question is whether the changes the NFL has made since 2009 will reduce head trauma and, in turn, reduce and/or eliminate CTE.  For all players, the challenge is to find a way to give them the support they need once their careers end.

“There is no exit strategy from the NFL,” Plummer said.  “It’s ‘You’re done.’  You don’t even get an apple and a road map.  What needs to happen is mandatory counseling.  In 15 years as a middle linebacker, I never would have thought of seeing a counselor.  I saw one in my divorce, and I just called my counselor today.  It can’t be optional, because macho players are taught to be invincible and they’re not going to do it.  Make it mandatory.”

Plummer’s suggestion has plenty of merit.  And if it keeps only one former player who is dealing with depression and migraines and the other effects of a life of football suddenly becoming a lifetime without it, it will have been worth the effort and the expense.

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58 Responses to “Seau’s family considers donating brain for study”
  1. mjbulls45 says: May 3, 2012 10:23 PM

    its gonna be a mess with lawsuits involving the NFL ,

    concussions,

    possible steroids,

    etc…

  2. thebigkahuna23 says: May 3, 2012 10:25 PM

    I thought this was headed this same route after hearing it was his chest. I hope the family allows it to happen. I think it would have been what Junior would want. Even after death he’s still giving everything to the game.

    R.I.P. Junior.

  3. patsfiend says: May 3, 2012 10:28 PM

    Junior gave so much in his life, and now he can give something even in death.

  4. kregaway says: May 3, 2012 10:30 PM

    I’d be depressed during a divorce too. I didn’t play in the nfl. Enough.

  5. hooterdawg says: May 3, 2012 10:31 PM

    “Former NFL linebacker Gary Plummer estimates that linebackers experience at least five low-grade concussions per game.”

    It sure sounds like this amateur neurologist is involved in that suit against the NFL.

  6. kb5523 says: May 3, 2012 10:32 PM

    I’m sorry but ive had enough. These players use the NFL for years for money,fame.Hell they use football to get a free college education,or as a stepping stone to a payday. Then,after the spotlight is gone,and the money is gone,they wanna sue the NFL. Why,did you not know football was a violent sport? Did someone force you to play highschool,college and NFL?You knew the risks,took the paydays.The only ? the judge should ask is: Did you know football was a violent,contact sport?The NFL should start putting waivers in contracts.This is going to get out of control.Everyone wants to place the blame somewhere else b/c they are broke,injured,etc.Its the player who pissed his money away.Its the player who signed up for the risks and cashed the checks.Enough of this passing the buck defense to the NFL.

  7. nyyjetsknicks says: May 3, 2012 10:34 PM

    Former NFL linebacker Gary Plummer estimates that linebackers experience at least five low-grade concussions per game.  “Junior played for 20 years,” Plummer told the San Jose Mercury News.  “That’s five concussions a game, easily.  How many in his career then?  That’s over 1,500 concussions.  I know that’s startling, but I know it’s true.  I had over 1,000 in my 15 years. 

    Is their any science or medical data backing up this claim? I find this very hard to believe.

  8. amgdds says: May 3, 2012 10:35 PM

    waaaah, i had over 1,000 concussions….waaah, i was depressed when i got divorced…Quit complaining. The first time I smacked my head into something and it hurt, I decided I would never do that again. I was five. I didn’t hear you complain when you bought a million dollar house. Or bought your luxury cars or nice vacations. Or financial freedom. No one forced you to do this. No one forced you to resign with the team. The NFL owes you adults nothing. Pay for your own therapy. Say thank you to the nfl and move on.

  9. lolb23 says: May 3, 2012 10:37 PM

    I felt depression going on throughout my divorce. Junior went through it with his divorce.”
    ________________________________

    Um………….maybe it was the divorce and not the concussion?

    “I also got depressed that one time my dog died…yea…stupid concussions..”

  10. bigwaz says: May 3, 2012 10:38 PM

    Not to make light of CTE, or Juniors tragic death… But it sounds like Plummer is trying to throw fuel on the law suit.

    I hope everyone likes flag football. That seems to be the outcome of all of this. Gladiators… We salute you.

  11. lolb23 says: May 3, 2012 10:39 PM

    Good luck proving none of these guys ever suffered a concussion in pee wee, high school, or college football before arriving in the NFL.

  12. canetic says: May 3, 2012 10:40 PM

    Why wouldn’t they?

  13. westyh says: May 3, 2012 10:41 PM

    With all due respect to Mr. Plummer, I suspect the majority of men suffer from depression during the course of a divorce. I don’t intend to make light of the head trauma these players have suffered; however, many plain old regular men suffer the same issues.

  14. seageo says: May 3, 2012 10:45 PM

    You felt depression while going through your divorce?????

    NO KIDDING!!!

    SO thats the NFLs fault? Thats like saying “I felt sad when my dog died”

    Its called LIFE…what do you expect going through a divorce while you think about the years wasted with someone you no longer love?

  15. sharksfan754 says: May 3, 2012 10:45 PM

    He may have the benefit of being the hitter though as opposed to the hitee (like a qb,rb). Either way I hope they donate it the more we can learn the more we can help

  16. yeahyeahyeahbono14 says: May 3, 2012 10:47 PM

    My condolences to the Seau family in this very difficult time.

    But to Gary Plummer… going through depression during a divorce happens to plenty of people who don’t have a history of concussions. They go hand in hand for most people experiencing them! C’mon now…

  17. seageo says: May 3, 2012 10:48 PM

    And by the way is Gary Plummer a Doctor? Did he get his PHD???

    WHo is he to say how many concussions a person gets per game…load of crap.

    and MANDATORY counseling???? How about no. Optional free counseling…maybe but Mandatory???? come on dude.

  18. astrosfan75956 says: May 3, 2012 10:50 PM

    They most certainly should.

  19. kelvinmchale says: May 3, 2012 10:52 PM

    When you lose hope, you find that suicide becomes an option.

  20. djstat says: May 3, 2012 10:52 PM

    Depression in a divorce? Someone tell Gary Plummer most who get divorced are depressed. STOP BLAMING CONCUSSIONS. Junior is the one who took his life. May he rest in peace and a prayer for his three childre

  21. explosionsauce says: May 3, 2012 10:53 PM

    Not saying CTE isn’t real but divorces are hard on most people.

  22. YouMadCauseImStylingOnYou says: May 3, 2012 10:55 PM

    Some of these guys are getting a little crazy with their definition of a concussion.

  23. HitsDingers says: May 3, 2012 10:55 PM

    I think it’s worth noting that 5 concussions per game number is kind of a ridiculous statement

  24. bigwaz says: May 3, 2012 11:05 PM

    “See that white mark that looks like my fingerprint? It’s Trauma!”

  25. selloutsho says: May 3, 2012 11:05 PM

    No. I’m tired of this being blamed on football, the day mommy entered us in peewee football we knew the dangers. I played 9 yrs maybe not at that level but this is bull.. Soldiers know when they sign up they could be shot or killed.. People in the oilfield know they can be mangled or is figured … You play a kids game at a high level you know the risks.. While I am sympathetic to him and his family this has nothing to do with it. People die from work all the time.. Not saying it shouldn’t be safer but at this point wavers should be signed … There are risks play it or leave it… Sign here

  26. nfl fan says: May 3, 2012 11:06 PM

    kelvinmchale says:
    May 3, 2012 10:52 PM
    When you lose hope, you find that suicide becomes an option.
    —————————————————–
    Maybe you do kelvinmchale. I find that it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

  27. raiderinva says: May 3, 2012 11:14 PM

    I am still waiting for a comment from those that believe Rodger Goodell wishes to make the NFL a flag football league.

    The things that Gary Plummer is asking for will take a serious chunk of change away from those that really are making the money.

  28. geo1113 says: May 3, 2012 11:37 PM

    Seau was divorced in 2002. There’s no question that one is depressed going through divorce and for some time after. In general, ten years is enough to deal with divorce. However, I found it interesting that Seau texted his ex-wife with an ILY before taking the action he took. It’s possible he never really dealt with it.

    The other day, Curtis Conway spoke with NFL Network. he mentioned that retiring from football left a huge void in his life. He said he was a star for years and when he retuired he had to find out who he was. He was no longer the football star and it took him 3 years to come to grips with that.

    You put these things together for Seau and one can imagine he was in a deep, dark hole. It’s a shame. He appears to have reached out to many and perhaps he didn’t know how to reach out for himself.

  29. caseyanthonymunoz says: May 3, 2012 11:38 PM

    Suggs family should do the same.

  30. thraiderskin says: May 3, 2012 11:42 PM

    I’m not sure why Seau decided to heart-shot himself, I’ve read the implications in an earlier article, not long after the confirmation of his death, that it was clearly from the effects of concussion-related trauma. I sort of thought it might have been the loss of the game he loved so much, what more symbolic way to show that than to shoot yourself in the heart? All I do know, is the situation sucks, if the family thinks this is the right thing to do, then I hope they do it. Whatever helps with the answers, because whenever a suicide occurs, all anyone really asks is “why?”

  31. briguy5 says: May 3, 2012 11:42 PM

    This tragedy is going to be another Lyle Alzado type moment. Like that tragedy changed the way we saw steroids, this will also change the NFL we all know and enjoy in major ways.

  32. 303bengalguy says: May 3, 2012 11:43 PM

    Don’t forget the 4 years of college.

    PS, can someone in the NBCSPORTSTALK. family please figure out how to make this mobile app remember my login so i don’t have to enter it every single stinking time??? what is this? 2007? get your IT act together over there please.

  33. hooterdawg says: May 3, 2012 11:55 PM

    I have seen those ‘ Groundhog Day’ movies where the actor relives each day over and over again. Sometimes the bored actor does something new and thrilling that results in death – temporarily. The next day he is alive again, so no harm results from his prank. Those who commit suicide aren’t thrill seekers – they know they are terminating life permanently. I don’t know how to ethically distinguish between suicide and homicide – they both terminate life and cause misery for those close to the victim. Suicide is a psychotic episode, and Seau has no history of such behavior. Because there is no evidence that Seau was suffering any depression symptoms, I tend to believe that his death was either accidental or foul play – no matter how the medical examiner rules.

  34. skoobyfl says: May 4, 2012 12:26 AM

    Jr. would want this.

  35. bullcharger says: May 4, 2012 12:29 AM

    The only way that football will survive this concussion mess is if there is some reduction of danger and then the players also understand and agree to the risk.

    Boxers, MMA fighters, policemen, firemen, soldiers and thousands of other sports and non-sports jobs have an incredible amount of danger and risk. Why is football any different from those jobs? How about race car drivers… they put their lives in the other drivers livers every race. How about baseball? Many guys have been beaned and lost eyesight or worse. You can’t take the danger of head injuries completely out of a contact sport.

    What about going back to grass instead of turf. That might help.

  36. cuttyplease says: May 4, 2012 12:38 AM

    So every time a former NFL player gets down over something, it is because of concussions?

    What explains the millions of non-NFL players who suffer from some form of depression?

  37. xpensivewinos says: May 4, 2012 12:38 AM

    20 years?

    You haven’t factored in Pop Warner, high school, college and all the related practices when it’s even more dangerous for young, still-developing brains to be sloshing around inside someone’s skull.

    Violent game……

  38. botchedextrapoint says: May 4, 2012 12:40 AM

    I played at a very low level for about 6 seasons. During my last season I suffered a concussion and from then on any good hit would leave me with a ringing in my head. In one game I was at centre and hit on three consecutive plays that left me so woozy I lined up to snap the ball to the d line. Five years later, during what should have been the best years of my life, I started to suffer depression. I don’t know if the two things are connected but studies into the brains of ex NFL players are vital to find answers to important questions as to how the brain works.

  39. 49erdynasty says: May 4, 2012 12:48 AM

    Everyone’s an expert these days… No wonder Plummer’s been so quiet since he retired. He was busy picking up an MD

  40. sminco123 says: May 4, 2012 1:12 AM

    Forget the divorce nonsense. But I think that counseling is a good idea. We are getting to the point where we can’t just say tough it out. Most of us do not work at a job that can cause permanent brain damage, no matter how much we make. Have some compassion.

  41. w1thinreason says: May 4, 2012 1:13 AM

    I felt depressed during my divorce too! The ONLY logical conclusion is that it’s because of CTE!

  42. jimbo75025 says: May 4, 2012 1:39 AM

    Not saying it shouldn’t be safer but at this point wavers should be signed … There are risks play it or leave it… Sign here

    ________

    Agreed. 253 men (grown adults) drafted last week-do you think any of them will refuse an NFL contract due to concerns about their long term health? Is Andrew Luck not completing his degree? Maybe he will refuse the millions from the Colts and decide to be an archictect.

    They know the risks. Make the money and live a life of luxury in comparison with most people or go be a working stiff like the rest of us.

  43. buckybadger says: May 4, 2012 1:59 AM

    We have a chance to gain knowledge which is always a good thing. Those that don’t want more knowledge of any situation are the truly dangerous people.

    Get the research done and lets find out all the facts we can. Athletes from high contact sports have been shown signs of this at a much higher rate then the general public. It is one thing to be depressed over a divorce but to take your life is a whole other level. Most marriages end in divorce, I don’t see them killing themselves.

    If his head is clean then he had demons we didn’t know about. If we learn that he was suffering from something maybe we can learn more about preventing it without destroying our sport.

  44. buckybadger says: May 4, 2012 2:04 AM

    No. I’m tired of this being blamed on football, the day mommy entered us in peewee football we knew the dangers. I played 9 yrs maybe not at that level but this is bull.. Soldiers know when they sign up they could be shot or killed.. People in the oilfield know they can be mangled or is figured … You play a kids game at a high level you know the risks.. While I am sympathetic to him and his family this has nothing to do with it. People die from work all the time.. Not saying it shouldn’t be safer but at this point wavers should be signed … There are risks play it or leave it… Sign here

    ——————

    If continue to do nothing and never learn more about the situation the sport will die out. Not now or even in 10 years but it can happen. Want to know what really killed boxing? Go look up Charlie Mohr from the University of Wisconsin. His death is what ended boxing at the college level hence killing the talent pool of the sport. It didn’t die there in the 60s but the sport here in the states as been thinning ever since.

    Learn what you can now so maybe we can do something about it. Maybe learn about making better equipment. I think the NFL should request to happen as well just to gain information. Knowledge is power. Don’t kill the future of the sport because you are afraid to learn more about the dangers now.

  45. david7590 says: May 4, 2012 2:07 AM

    It’s not like he needs it.

  46. vetdana says: May 4, 2012 2:14 AM

    Mandatory Counseling may help a few who see the benefits of counseling early & would open up to further sessions…But…the fact is…those who… do not want to be there ….are not going to open up and be helped by further sessions. Period.. .this I have learned after 25 years of Counseling.

  47. rosesacl says: May 4, 2012 2:22 AM

    Kids, don’t kill yourself…. don’t be like Junior Seau…he was a bad man.

  48. johnnyb216 says: May 4, 2012 2:52 AM

    I think 5 concussions per game is a bit high. Are all these players needing to call a cab ride home after every game?

  49. hedleykow says: May 4, 2012 2:57 AM

    Divorce is depressing?

    I always looked at it as a cure for depression.

  50. beelicker says: May 4, 2012 3:14 AM

    With heart disease you sometimes get cardiac arrest & it can kill you.

    With severe depression sometimes you get acute suicidal thoughts and urges & that can kill you too.

    Depression like that is usually deeply organic.

    Even so, other people can have both & still survive (usually with treatment).

  51. rolloxd says: May 4, 2012 3:32 AM

    I currently play highschool football. If during my teams home opener in August, I suffer a concussion, do I have the right to sue my school or my states athletic association?

    No. These guys played Peewee, Middleschool, Highschool, College then Pro ball knowing they can get Hurt and Hurt others. It’s part of the risk and excitement of the game. Every single game someone suffera one type of injury or another. We know this before, during Nd After the game. So when someone gets hit too hard and suffers a concussion, is it the the school or leagues fault? I’d say no.

    We play this extraordinary game knowing the possible risk and possible reward. If you believe the possible reward is higher than the possible risk, you continue to play. No one is making these guys play I’m the NFL. No one makes them play in college. You make the choice to play the hand knowing the possible risk.

    Deal with the reprocissions or don’t play the game. Plain and simple.

  52. kodakinvegas says: May 4, 2012 3:34 AM

    Hey, I’ve been through 5 divorces, each of my wives gave me a headache and then on top of that on NFL gameday they’d throw crap at me and give me a concussion. One even threw a wall phone n hit me. Do I qualify for the class action suit? None of my wives had any class but I got a lot of action out of five of them!! I think 14-15 mil would do me good. Plus if I get free counselling I could maybe understand why the heck I did it 5 times!! I lost a zillion bucks just in attorney fees. Can I get that back?

  53. dclogicatlast says: May 4, 2012 5:51 AM

    Interesting point talking about “”if only one life” Is saved any cost or effort is worth it. I wonder why we, myself included, don’t apply that logic to all human lives on a more consistent basis.

  54. tomsd1 says: May 4, 2012 6:15 AM

    Let me see. The NFL makes BILLIONS – and they can’t do more than give somebody a handshake when they retire? And if any of you guys even played college ball – you would know how much more violent that is than high school ball – and pro ball is just that much more. violent than college ball. FACT.

    I have no issue at all with Plummer saying he/Linebackers probably suffer five low grade concussions a game, and actually believe sometimes the severity may be higher than just low grade.

  55. macbull says: May 4, 2012 7:14 AM

    Fix the helmets…

    The NFL continues to use helmets that are very much like the helmets used 40 years ago…rock hard outer shell with padding on the inside.

    You can only put so much padding on the inside of helmet, folks?

    How do we solve the problem of concussions…change the game?…NOT NECESSARY!

    Stop with the fining and suspending players and pull your brain out of …where ever it presently is…and think?

    Not a thing wrong with the game of football…the problem is the equipment being used has not improved over time.

    The NFL has had test cases, where players have tried helmets that were considerably different than the standard helmet of today and in each case, those players successful extended their careers, virtually eliminating the concussions in these cases.

    The first to experiment with new concept helmet design was Willie Lanier, who had his career threatened after suffering a severe concussion as a rookie. He successfully extended his career and played another 10 seasons.

    Mark Kelso utilized this new concept in football helmets after he was told by Buffalo Bills doctors to consider leaving the game because of concussions and he played another 5 years.

    Steve Wallace also utilized this same helmet concept to extend his career which was threatened due to concussions.

    What is this earth shattering helmet technology?…padding added to the outside of the existing helmets.

    That is it, padding added to the outside of football helmets has been successfully tried in the NFL and it worked better than anyone could have imagined.

    Now comes the question…why won’t Roger Goodell mandate the use of helmets with padding added to the outside of NFL helmets?

    GOOD QUESTION…why not put padding on the outside of football helmets?

    …can’t do anymore with the inside of helmets…why not add padding to the outside football helmets?

    I guess adding padding to the outside of a football helmet is just too simple for Roger Goodell…it can’t be that easy…can it?

    …damn right it can be that easy and it is that easy…if the NFL really wanted to stop concussions.

  56. kws767 says: May 4, 2012 7:56 AM

    football as we know and love it is about to be a thing of the past, all thanks to a bunch of greedy trial lawyers. nice. thats real nice.

  57. stevepea says: May 4, 2012 11:56 AM

    That shouldn’t take very long.

  58. btredway says: May 4, 2012 1:11 PM

    Seriously, stuff that happens in life causes depression. So it just so happens it’s concussions that cause a couple football players to have depression, but they couldn’t possibly have gotten it another way like the other 15M people in the US who are suffering from this…? This is REDICULOUS. I understand concussions are bad and are a major issue, but come on, not everything is derived from concussions.

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