Boston researchers request Junior Seau’s brain

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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.

38 responses to “Boston researchers request Junior Seau’s brain

  1. It would be reassuring to the family to know that his death at least could be partially explained–assuming he as symptomatic.

  2. If his wishes were to donate his brain for scientific research on his organ doner card then fine. Otherwise, this is the most insensitive BS request I have ever heard. Leave his family alone.

  3. Depression is a real disease. It debilitates the individual, and it doesn’t go away quick and easy by popping a pill. If the study of CTE can wake this country’s establishment up and move it away from the Big Pharma’s grip, then maybe suicides like Duerson’s and Seau’s wouldn’t have been done in vain.

  4. So in the end it’s just another lawsuit against the NFL? Big surprise there.

  5. I couldn’t imagine putting a gun to my chest. The reason people shoot themselves in the head is so they die instantly. I saw on discovery channel that someone shot in the heart can still function for up to 20 seconds, which is why special ops goes for the head when they are shooting to kill an armed person. If he missed his heart, it took even longer. I think he either wanted his brain to be examined or an open casket funeral to go through that. If he was thinking of his family, he probably did not want them to see him with his head blown off.

  6. The zombie apocalypse has started among the Boston medical community. Make peace with your loved ones, before the zombies come for your brain too.

  7. Did you know that seventy eight percents (78%) of former NFL players are either bankrupt or divorced within two years after they have retired?

  8. Before Ray Lewis came to Baltimore, Junior Seau was my favorite LB man, smh. Such a great, dynamic player that made everybody on his team better. If CTE is found to have led up to his suicide…I think the league itself will be fine, we all love the game too much…but any blows to the head will probably have six figure fines and/or lengthy suspensions. Because this isn’t a random player…it’s Junior Seau man…this was tough to take smh.

  9. He shot himself in the chest for a reason. It’s pretty obvious that he suspected someone would want to study his brain after death.

  10. The brain is the most complicated organ in the body and we understand the least about it. We take for granted that if you injure/abuse other organs in your body they will eventually stop working. Why is it so hard for people to come around to the fact that if you keep smashing your brain against the inside of your skull it will eventually stop working properly?

  11. The medical profession is always looking for donations; donate your brain, donate your heart, donate your eyes,
    blood, liver etc.

    But they charge dearly for these donated parts!

  12. Wow some of you commenters are total clowns. If something positive, some meaning, can come from this, where’s the problem? I understand that everyone’s upset–I myself was in tears yesterday. But there’s probably going to be an autopsy anyway, so why not learn as much as we can about what might have happened?

  13. Do you think anybody is taking into account the ramifications of this and Duerson’s death? I loved Junior’s play, and his passion for the game. But if these players continue on this path and can not find a way to deal with depression or other side effects from concussion’s, eventually you will get government interferance. The results could be a total shutdown of the game we love. On top of that, once we complete or feel like we completed this concussion investigation’s, we are sure to get back into the players who can no longer walk due to multiple hip and knee surgeries.

    Now, I am all for player safety, and believe that past and present players love the game as much as i do. But the results of these lives lost and legal issues from suing the NFL for past issues from not protecting the players, on top of the bounty scandal could easily send up enough red flags for some press hungry senator or congressman to step up and start a chain of events that triggers a response to shut it all down until players as a whole, past and present, feel protected, ala UFC. And the players Past and present who love the game, I believe, could be setting us on a path to possibly lose it.

  14. I’m sure that’s what he would’ve wanted. I have to believe that’s why he shot himself in the chest.

  15. Looks like the weather is too nice for the trolls to stay under their bridge where they belong. I bet most of them would still be cracking jokes if an entire team went down. Junior Seau was a great player and an even better person in terms of helping those around him. Just show him some respect, and this is coming from a Broncos’ fan.

  16. @warrenmoon:

    when a suicide victim is about to pull the trigger, thoughts of a potential brain examination don’t generally come up. The mental breakdown during the crisis moment doesn’t provide for such a detatched thought to living or dying. He ain’t interested in litigation. He was in a personal hell.

  17. Is it me or is there an abundance of corny comments nowadays?

    Thumbs up if you agree.

    Thumbs down if I offended you

  18. I understand that researching his brain could be important in some ways, but isn’t there any other tests that they can do BEFORE the person takes their own life? Seau already showed signs of depression before this event, why weren’t these scientists and doctors this persistent while he was still alive? They could have prevented this tragedy.

  19. Most likely scenario is football was a huge part of who he was. I can’t imagine being 40 and my career being over. He was a football player his entire life and then he’s done, not good enough anymore. I suspect we’ll hear that his finances weren’t in great shape. He had the domestic violence incident in 2010. Just blindly attributing his death to head injuries is absurd. People from all walks of life do the same thing every day.

    And this outfit in Boston will of course find something. Their jobs depend on it.

  20. I think we need to see the results of the brain testing, even if finding out is opening a Pandora’s box. These are people’s lives. Chris Henry was still playing in the NFL and after he died they discovered he had CTE. It is time to get serious about improving the helmets. No one wants to see a league dumbed down further by penalties or the like, but no one wants any more players to kill themselves b/c of CTE either.

  21. since the NFL is a very big business, and the owners protect it, you’ll start seeing the ‘older’ players being let go sooner and the concentration on starting younger players faster. Money talks.. and ‘lawsuits’ speak the loudess.

  22. You have people in all walks of life that end up having mental problems ,I would say that 50 percent of the people in prison have some form of mental illness and they did not play football.i think 60 percent of the USA is on some type of drug that they take daily that they get from Walgreens etc…

  23. First of all, I didn’t comment on any of the Seau posts yesterday. I don’t know, I guess I just couldn’t really muster up anything I felt would do Jr justice. He was my boyhood hero growing up and I remember in ’95 standing outside the players tunnel and having him, Humphries, and Means sign my fan day poster and it was the coolest thing ever. Yesterday was very sad for me and I wish my old #55 jerseys still fit so I could wear them for a week.

    Aside from that, it is obvious that concussions have a long term effect and it is obviously negative but is bound to happen with football, hell, at any level. Now, maybe I’m stupid for thinking this is an idea, but let’s say when I joined the Marine Corps in late ’04 I knew what I was getting into. One way or another, I KNEW what may happen to me. But, alas, I signed on the line and thrust my motivated Devil Dog self into it and was fortunate enough to come out alive. But my point is that I volunteered and signed. Now, why try and change the game? Really? I know war and the NFL aren’t the same thing, but if men want to join the NFL, full well knowing about concussions, broken bones, and all that, and they sign on the dotted line… then why can’t we just have a disclaimer they sign with their contracts. Almost like when you do any other dangerous thing full well knowing is hazardous. There’s usually always a disclaimer of some sorts.

  24. @sdboltaction … sorry to hear that. I hope they have a public memorial of some kind, and people can wear their #55’s there. I too, was surprised how hard this hit me yesterday. Not a boyhood hero, but I went to SC (a year after he left) and have lived in SD since, so pretty close. He had so much going for him, he owned this town, and rightfully so.

    A couple things, IMO:

    It’s a major assumption to assume he wanted his brain studied. There are a lot of reasons, samurai style, why he might have shot himself in the heart. Remember, this guy was a warrior and supreme competitor. He might have been “punishing” himself by making it harder on himself, as warped as that sounds (and also an assumption.)

    Regardless of his reasons, I hope the family and NFL support study of his brain, and perhaps a better NFL alum system, and more protective helmets, will result. It is sad to know what our greatest gridiron heroes like Seau are putting themselves through, but at least with issues like this it is crystal clear for them (and their parents) when they put on the helmet and run out there.


  25. Its great that we are learning more about footballs effects on the brain. This can help create the safest equipment and learn how to treat and handle problems that could arise. BUT THAT IS ALL!

    This notion that this is bad for the game and will hurt it’s popularity and will hurt the NFL, or that football is bad is plain crazy.

    There are sports such as NASCAR and other forms of car racing which participants literally die during. Beyond that there are professions that arn’t nearly as lucritive that people die doing (see logging, coal mining, fishing, even construction).

    In boxing and UFC fighting, participants literally beat each other in the head until one of them is knocked out. Much worst than the NFL, but these sports still have their place and always will.

    What if playing football does have something to do brain damage and with guys killing themselves? Well the suicide rate is still lower than dentists, physicians and many other professions. Are we supposed to feel bad for them to. Are we supposed to quit going in fear that the dentist might kill themselve. Does the dentist get the pay and glory and public platform that football payers do? Does the logger or the coal miner whose job is more dangerous?

    My point is that the more we learn the more we can prevent and treat these injuries but nothing more. If football causes brain damage that leads to suicide in rare cases that changes nothing. Would Junior Seau have been better off as a brick layer, a logger, a coal miner, a construction worker? Would he have touched as many lives? Would he have helped as many people? Would he have made as much money? Would he of had as much fun? Would we even care that hes dead? NO.

  26. Don’t overlook the BFC (big fat check) and OOC (oodles of cash), for PTW (part time work), with LVT (long vacation time), and ESA (easy sex anywhere).

  27. johnnyjagfan says:
    May 3, 2012 10:53 AM

    when a suicide victim is about to pull the trigger, thoughts of a potential brain examination don’t generally come up. The mental breakdown during the crisis moment doesn’t provide for such a detatched thought to living or dying. He ain’t interested in litigation. He was in a personal hell.


    Then it was probably the latter in my statement. The other article showed that the last thing he did was text his family that he loved them. Maybe he was worried they would find him with his head blown off? He wanted to take his own life, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t worried about his family still.

  28. Expect increased testing, with mandatory retirements at a certain point (X number of concussions or test scores decreasing by a certain amount). The lawsuits by former players will force that. That will end up filtering down to high schools and colleges – once schools start getting sued, they will be forced to do something similar, or else drop the sport.

  29. demolition510 says:May 3, 2012 10:54 AM

    Is it me or is there an abundance of corny comments nowadays?

    Thumbs up if you agree.

    Thumbs down if I offended you
    What do we do if we don’t care?

  30. @sdboltaction: this quote’s for you.

    “It has to happen. Those who are saying the game is changing for the worse, well, they don’t have a father who can’t remember his name because of the game. I’m pretty sure if everybody had to wake with their dad not knowing his name, not knowing his kids’ name, not being able to function at a normal rate after football, they would understand that the game needs to change. If it doesn’t there are going to be more players, more great players, being affected by the things that we know of and aren’t changing. That’s not right.”

    –Junior Seau

  31. How can this possibly be blamed on football?? Hundreds if not thousands of suicides are committed yearly by non nfl players. Jus normal people who cant deal with it

    Im sorry im not saying football head contact is healthy, but for every Dave Duerson there is a Barry Sanders or a Derrick Brooks or a Zack Thomas (all probably endured comparable amounts of head trauma) and none of them decided to off themselves. Yet you have suicidal college non athletes all the time. Or movie star or musician..they werent gettin hit by harrison across the middle..

  32. @EJ

    Not sure, but (as I mentioned yesterday in other forums about Seau) Marcellus Wiley intimated that maybe nobody knew the real Seau inside–they only knew what Seau wanted them to see. Depression treatment really has got to begin with the client. I’m not saying Seau didn’t seek treatment (though if he did I’m unaware of it), but ultimately it was up to him to seek it and not any doctor or counselor.

  33. It is a given Seau’s brain will show evidence of CTE. What is impossible to show is that CTE has any link to his death. Players in the NFL undergo repeated head trauma that causes the brain to heal and show evidence of CTE. That has been shown quite clearly to be true. However, the idea that someone commits suicide BECAUSE of CTE is not a justifiable conclusion. People without CTE kill themselves all the time. The evidence that NFL players suffer from greater rates of dementia and mental illness is 1) based on a poorly performed SURVEY study of players’ family members, and 2) confounded by many other factors, many of which Tim Brown eloquently pointed out.

  34. phillyfan4ever says:
    May 3, 2012 12:18 PM
    I request ownership of his 3.5 million dollar beach front mansion in southern california
    That’s not even a lot for beachfront around here Seau lived modestly, actually, and surfed with his neighbors.

  35. 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.

    Let me take a wild guess…doctor’s studying other parts of Seau’s body, besides the brain, will discover injuries consistent with repeated blows to these areas also?

  36. Yea there had to be a reason why he shot himself in the chest.Something was telling me that someone set this up and shot him in the chest because how many people do you know shoot themselves in the chest ? Seau’s was a good man and nobody that is a fan of him would think he would do something like this.

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