Seau family sues NFL

Getty Images

On the heels of the disclosure that linebacker Junior Seau suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy when he committed suicide in May 2012, Seau’s family is now suing the NFL for wrongful death.

The suit was filed Wednesday in California Superior Court.

The NFL likely will move swiftly to shift the case to federal court and then to consolidate it with the thousands of claims pending in federal court in Philadelphia.  The league’s threshold argument will be, as it has been in every concussion case, that any remedies for failure to warn players about the risks of concussions or to protect them from concussions must be pursued under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The claim also could have a problem under the statute of limitations.  While scientific examination of his brain tissue only recently revealed the existence of CTE, the NFL likely will argue that Seau knew or should have known that he had legal rights that were potentially violated by the NFL more than two years before the date of the filing of the lawsuit.

While the concussion lawsuits draw headlines and drive web traffic, it’s important to remember that these cases are not slam dunks.  Even if a jury ever is in position to assess whether the league failed to do enough to warn or protect players from concussions, there will be jurors who are inclined to believe that the players would have done nothing differently even if they had been warned.

82 responses to “Seau family sues NFL

  1. Enough is enough.

    I feel their pain. We all miss Junior.

    But he signed up, on his own, to play in the NFL. He knew the risks when he signed that first Contract.

    I’m very sorry he ended his life because of brain injuries, but suing the NFL won’t bring him back.


  2. This is a sad situation. But you have to know what you are getting yourself into! There is a reason you get paid millions of dollars. No one put a gun to your head and made you play football!

  3. I’m just glad Seau’s family knows 100% that Seau never had any concussions in little league, high school AND college. That’s impressive and impossible.

  4. Cool. Seau’s family should be able to sue the NFL. As long as they give back all the millions of dollars Seau made off of his association with the NFL.

  5. I would sign a contract yesterday and even a note saying I won’t sue anyone or my family won’t bc of the effect the game had on me. These people are money hungry to the max

  6. This is just getting out of control. Seau was a LB. Not a kicker. He knew damn well that he was going to get knocked around and end up with some physical damage, as well as a few concussions over the years. And yet, he signed every contract with ease, knowing that he was sacrificing his body for the millions of dollars on the table. Do I feel bad for his family? Yes. But do I think they can blame the NFL? Absofrigginlutely not.

  7. No respect for money grabs. His death was a tragedy but it was of his own choosing. These suits are brought by players who had representatives (NFLPA) in the meetings and who had access to the data that the NFL is claimed to have withheld. How they are not summarily dismissed is a testament to society’s trend of blaming everybody else. Take responsibility, move on and maybe try to help others learn from the mistakes made.

  8. “there will be jurors who are inclined to believe that the players would have done nothing differently even if they had been warned.”

    This, so much this. These are people who have been most likely doing this sport for nearly all their life. You’re going to try an convince them to stop making millions, step away from the fame and glory?

    Good luck…

    Football players are modern day gladiators. They know the risks, they play hard because of the risks, and the reap the rewards for suffering these risks.

  9. How many times did Jr. come out of retirement to Keep playing? I mean it’s sad and everyone agrees hits to head can cause brain damage but putting out hands like know they are owed something is ludicrious.

  10. Everybody knows the risk of concussions when suiting up. Everybody.

    From little league football on up. It IS a part of the game. To act like you aren’t aware of the risk is ridiculous at best.

    There is a reason football isn’t for everyone.

  11. The guys who played in the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s got their heads pounded in every week. One concussion after the other, I’m sure. But they weren’t killing themselves. So head injuries alone can’t explain this.

    I think there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that this phenomenon is more a product of suddenly being unfamous, unemployed, and directionless in your mid-30s than any brain damage. These guys have been stars all their lives, and when the music stops, it’s very hard to take.

  12. Seau wasn’t diagnosed with any concussions at all from what I understand. So that would be a combination of two things… no testing for concussion like symptoms by team medical staff and Seau wanting to go back in the game regardless of how he felt. It’s not a one sided issue. Even Peyton Manning had said he tried to do poorly on his baseline concussion test to ensure he could pass it if his bell was rung. The bigger problem is likely how missing plays and games due to any injury can may lead to a lost job. The Players will do anything to stay on the field. It’s not just head injuries… look at Dez Bryant… His hand could have permanent damage I am sure, as he needed it operated on much earlier.

  13. Injuries have NEVER deterred people from playing any sport. And as medicine & surgeries has become better it makes all kids, teens and young adults feel invincible.

    What has happen with Seau and the thousands of others is NOT just an NFL problem. They start playing, in most cases, 10 years before being pro.

    Why are these same people not suing their universities? At least in the NFL you’re afforded excellent medical care and salary.

  14. And people wonder why the NFL is trying to make the game safer.

    Goodluck getting parents to sign permission for their kids to play football “as-is” over the next decade.

    Oh oh course the “tough guy” fan will yammer about this and that failing to understand the NFL NEEDS kids playing, and the more the better.

    Someone will cry about Goodell cluelessly and the sheep will follow

  15. I hope they get nothin out of this. Not because i dislike seau or his family, but because all of the warnings are obvious.

    I play sports (mostly ice hockey)…i know if i break a leg or get a concussion or something, thas a risk.

    They were probably talked into it by a scumbag lawyer just trying to get a cut of the action.

  16. It’s fair to assume that someone with Seau’s intensity and dedication for the game of football would not have stopped playing even with fair warning.

    Even after all of the attention on the dangers of head and brain injury in the last 2 years, I can’t think of one player who has decided to retire preemptively.

  17. So the cash cow died and now they need a final payout. I really feel bad for the family that it happened, but everybody has always known that
    big blows to the head = bad. He got paid millions to take them.

  18. His family got to live a good life off of Junior Seau playing football, but now that the star is gone and the money is gone, after being a deadbeat to his kids, drinking himself into failure, and having major gambling problems…..

    His family is going to come out looking for more money?

    As a San Diego native my whole life, I can tell you Junior Seau tried to take his life far earlier than when he shot himself, he drove off a cliff that NO MAN should’ve survived, I know this because I walk down it all the time to go surfing.

    To think his family now wants a payday shows just how classless the Seau family is. Stay classless Seau Family

  19. These guys sign contracts to beat the hell out of each other. It’s ridiculous that them and their families are now suing the league… that’s like people that sue Mickey D’s for you being fat.

  20. This only leads to the future contracts where it states, they know the risks involved with professional football. Talk about a witch hunt!

  21. “Even if a jury ever is in position to assess whether the league failed to do enough to warn or protect players from concussions, there will be jurors who are inclined to believe that the players would have done nothing differently even if they had been warned.”


    Even now, when this avalanche of evidence is coming in about concussion trauma and CTE — do we see a flood of players retiring because of it? Absolutely not.

    I think of the entirety of active NFL ballers, I know of two athletes who’ve shut it down over concern tied to the effects of concussions.

    Moreover, there are a heck of lot of athletes who are not active NFL players, and are doing everything in their power to get out there on Sundays.

  22. It’s amazing how common folks side with the rich folks against other common folks (players). Everyone seems to know exactly how much Seau knew and when he knew it. The current narrative is that ALL players would have continued to play even if they KNEW they would die young by their own hand after years of horrible depression.

    That narrative is overly presumptive. You don’t know that about every player. Even if a hundred players come on ESPN and say they would have continued to play even if they had known the risks it wouldn’t mean that ALL players would.

    People on the internet like to post about how stupid players are when they do stupid things, but when something threatens the sleepy, quiet world of the NFL all of a sudden the players were always geniuses fully understanding the consequences of multiple blows to the head, even those that didn’t result in a “concussion”.

    To me the question is what did the NFL know and when did they know it and did they share their knowledge with the players. If they withheld information from the players then they are liable in my mind.

  23. This poor family. I feel bad for them. They’ve fallen hard for the big lie that this is going to help them. The gravy train is gone. Junior Seau and his brand is gone and so too is the money and street cred that goes with it.

    I met Carrie Underwood’s aunt and uncle last year and they were really milking that angle. Nobody cares. Gravy train is about to find out about political fallout.

  24. What? No suits filed against the grade school, high school and college where Junior Seau played? I guess it’s strictly the fault of the “deepest pocket”, the NFL. This is a tragic occurence but the man wasn’t forced to play professional football. I suppose we’ll now see that all employers will be culpable for the suicides of all of their employees.

  25. im all for the guys being able to sue, so long as they don’t sign that multiMILLION dollar contract.

    make under a $100k a year and then come talk to me about risking your health in your job like millions of other Americans do.

    you get paid a nice premium to perform in a hazardous environment, learn that fact.

  26. This isn’t about brain injuries, football, saving other players, or even about Junior. It’s about money.

  27. When this first happened, I wondered if his death was really a suicide. I had never heard of anyone shooting themselves in the chest to commit suicide. Seemed odd to me at the time and I still think it sounds odd. Maybe I am wrong, and I could very well be. Just a suspicion I’ve had.

  28. Instead of making the game safer with harder helmets and padding, they should go back to making them softer – players would think twice about leading with their leather helmet.

    Like any profession you sign up for, you have to know the risks. Police and firemen risk knowingly put their lives on the line everyday and they don’t sue if they get injured or die. No one forced football on Seau.

  29. This sort of law suit is why we will soon see attorneys as well as doctors on the NFL sidelines.

    Players will have to sign waivers to go back into a game after any sort of injury or the attorneys will not clear them to reenter the game.

    Soon to be known as The National Attorney’s Flag Football League.

  30. Did he not enjoy the game? Did he not sign with a pro team? Did he not report every day to train his body and get paid to play?

    How’s it ‘Wrongful’?

  31. Good. The NFL should have warned him when it KNEW that excessive concussions could cause CTE instead of staying silent.

  32. I am sorry for the family loss but enough is enough on this stuff. NFL players are well aware of the risk they take to their bodies and long term health by playing the game. Everybody with common sense knows that to be the case. The NFL concussion lawsuits are like a NASCAR driver suing another driver after a crash, or an NHL player suing for frostbite….

  33. NFL is ALL about the money, and thats pretty much all they care about and respond to. I guess the only way to get their attention is to hit them in the wallet. Its business.

  34. This is a great thread. It reminds me of the 2003 film, Runaway Jury. The film was based on a John Grisham novel. Virtually all of the posters on this thread could play the part of Frank Herrera. If you want to see yourself as others do rent the film. Alas, Frank Herrera is not the protagonist.

  35. How do they know that the CTE diagnosis had anything to do with his suicide? There are plenty of other factors that could have led to depression and suicide. I don’t think it’s possible to conclusively prove that he committed suicide because of concussions suffered from playing in the NFL.

  36. this is the exact reason why Goodell is doing what he is doing .. so stop calling him Godell and saying how he is ruining the game. he is not. if the NFL weren’t getting sued all over the place then he would not be doing any of this. and that is the truth

  37. @bartlettruss
    “common folks” lol I don’t count nfl players as common folks the minimun wage is $390,000. How many players have stopped playing since they became aware of or at least changed the way they played? If anything everything I’ve heard has been negative towards the changes made.

  38. Disgraceful is right!
    seau gave his family more than they could ever hope to have without the league. Its not like they were playing with leather helmets. The technology totally improved from the years of that age, and now the former players are seeking compensation, talk about the greed, they deserve the money from the league, seaus family does not . He knew the risks and still led with his helmet, he killed himself, lay him to rest!

  39. To me CTE is just taking the blame for a number of issues, because it is “all the NFL’s fault”.

    There is never any responsibility being taken for not being able to adjust in retirement.

    – Money isn’t coming in anymore
    – No more day to day structure of the NFL.
    – Might have to work a job that they are not naturally good at.
    – Aches and pains of body taking a pounding for years
    – Now have to spend time with a family that they don’t really know

    The above and more are can cause depression and substance abuse.

    The real criminals are the lawyers exploiting these families emotions for the purpose of lining their own pockets.

  40. steelbreeze676 says: Jan 23, 2013 1:22 PM

    This is the first of what will eventually end contact football as a sport, at least as we know it.

    I had to sign a waiver at an amusement park to go on a kick butt sling-shot ride.

    The NFL will make EVERY PLAYER on the team sign a waiver that indicates you play AT YOUR OWN RISK, very soon. Mark it.

  41. I am really sorry that someone has died, but that is no reason to sue the employer. We choose our professions, and know the repercussions of those choices. Football is a sport of hitting….and how can you say which is the trauma that caused the most damage? Was it peewee ball, High School ball, college? Should he have been allowed to play as a child? Our doctor advised against peewee football because children’s bodies have not yet developed well enough to withstand the hits they would take. We all make choices, starting with parents at a young age, to the athletes themselves when they choose their professions. We have seen so many time this year as athletes have willingly admitted they hide there concussions, and other injuries, to stay on the field. You can NOT watch a game without knowing it will be hard on the body, so you know the choice you are making when you go ahead with it. You are paid well to perform, and reap the benefits for many years, and hope that the negatives outweigh the positives. But it is the players choice.

  42. My biggest thing is the fact that virtually ALL of these guys have been playing football since they were 6 year old. Why is all the blame being put on the NFL? Why aren’t park leagues, high schools, and colleges being sued?

    This is nothing more than a big money grab.

  43. For everyone who whines about why the NFL has implemented all these rules for “defenseless” players, this is why..

    The only way the NFL can protect themselves from getting sued is by now telling the players on the field that there will strict punishment for targeting the head..

    Like it or not, it’s these types of situations with Junior Seau that are causing the NFL to force these type of plays to be deemed illegal.

  44. I object! The players DID NOT know the risks, specifically the permanent damage to the brain that the recent professional study revealed. Everything before this study would only be speculation. Furthermore, nobody “signs up” to get their brains bashed in.

    I hope the Seau Estate gets 100’s of millions. All their lawyers have to prove is the NFL was negligent by knowing information re: the health risks but did nothing. Case closed…the end.

  45. Hey, guys, football is dangerous. That’s why you wear helmets! When a player fastens his chin strap he assumes the risk inherent in playing the game.

    All these lawsuits are about only one thing: getting into the deep pockets of the NFL.

  46. thelastpieceofcheese says:
    Jan 23, 2013 1:11 PM
    Until the legal system implements a rule that losers pay winners court costs, the courts will be flooded withy frivolous lawsuits.

    Truth is, that rule would do far more harm than good because it would effectively close the courthouse doors to poor and middle-income people. Plus, imagine its impact in the criminal sphere; want your taxes to pay O.J.’s multimillion-dollar legal bill?

  47. I know this has been said but when it comes to these concussion suits against the NFL I get a little upset. No one forced you to play football. Everyone on the planet knows football is a contact sport where you can get hurt. And what are the odds your only concussions came in the NFL? Pee wee, high school and college I’m sure led to a bunch of hits to the head. The difference is the NFL has money. These are just more frivolous law suits.

  48. Since Seau, presumably played football from the pee-wee leagues forward, how can they prove he suffered the damage at the NFL level — which, presumably, has the bests equipment and medical support available?

    His brain damage could have begun back from hits he took in Jr. High School — who knows!?

  49. There is a study that shows much of this damage probably happens to these guys when they are kids and their brains arent fully developed

  50. coreydean says: Jan 23, 2013 1:55 PM

    When this first happened, I wondered if his death was really a suicide. I had never heard of anyone shooting themselves in the chest to commit suicide. Seemed odd to me at the time and I still think it sounds odd. Maybe I am wrong, and I could very well be. Just a suspicion I’ve had.
    Well Sherlock, he shot himself in the chest so his brain could be studied, like in similar former cases. As far as the family suing, that is disgusting to me. Lots of players did not get brain injuries because they did not play 17+ seasons or whatever he played. Suing the NFL is ridiculous. Should a police or fireman or soldiers family sue the government when one of them dies from injuries received on the job in NORMAL working conditions. They may not have understood the science of brain injuries as much when he started playing, but you can tell by the growth and evolution of the pads and helmets the players wear that someone is obviously trying to help solve the problem. The players want to play and pick up quarter million dollar paychecks every week, not protect their heads and make minimum salary.

  51. Exactly!

    All players today are aware of the risk of brain injury and injuries to other parts of their bodies while playing football.

    But I don’t see anyone walking away and giving the money back.

    It was all about money to start with – hence the reason they donated his brain for research – because visions of $$ danced in their heads.

    There are plenty of people who suffer concussions and have CTE, but they aren’t putting a gun in their mouth and blowing their head off.

    There are other factors at play here – not just what they did for a living.

  52. To the poster that asked the reason he shot himself in the chest was for the same reason Dave Duerson shot himself in the chest, so their brain’s could be studied for CTE. Secondly, if you want insight into the gladiator mentality of NFL players lookup and read an article about Jason Taylor in the Miami Herald from 1/13/13. JT wasn’t coming off the field for nothing, neither was JS. Tragic death yes, should the Seau family get paid from this lawsuit? Not a dime IMO.

  53. It sucks what happened to Junior, he was such a great ambssador of the game. I’m sure the “Seau Estate” has been bombarded by lawyers looking to represent them in a suit. Just another example of lawyers and liberals pile driving this country into the ground.

  54. enochmh2 says:Jan 23, 2013 1:38 PM

    The millions he made while playing in the NFL have run out?

    I doubt it. Greed knows no limts.

  55. Nothing against Jr Seau, but the family cash cow us gone, and the 100 family members he has been supporting is broke. For this reason alone, I hope this lawsuit is dismissed. Figure out how to support yourselves.

  56. szwhtsup123 says:Jan 23, 2013 4:01 PM

    … I’m sure the “Seau Estate” has been bombarded by lawyers looking to represent them in a suit. Just another example of lawyers and liberals pile driving this country into the ground.

    The minute Seau made his first million they all registered to vote as Republicans. That’s where the real greed lies.

  57. Was the NFLPA named in the suit as well? You can just shrug the blame off of them too. Anything the league knew or did not know, than the NFLPA would have been just has knowledgeable.

    So why don’t they file suit against the NFLPA also for not protecting his life?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!