Seau lawsuit outlines symptoms dating back to mid-1990s

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The complaint filed by the estate and four children of linebacker Junior Seau contains claims and allegations typical of the thousands of other concussion lawsuits.  For example, the lawsuit refers to the NFL’s glorification of violent play via videos sold by NFL Films, quoting Seau from a 1993 offering in which he says, “If I can feel some dizziness, I know that guy is feeling double [that].”

But the lawsuit contains a lengthy and detailed explanation of the symptoms Seau suffered in the years prior to his death.  The complaint explains that, as early as the mid-1990s, Seau was demonstrating “dizziness and other symptoms of concussion,” with a “noted change in his behavior and functioning.”  He began, according to the lawsuit, to become “erratic,” and he showed “emotional instability.”  The complaints refers to persistent insomnia dating back to the mid-1990s, and contends that he became “forgetful and unable to concentrate or focus.”

“Both at work and at home, people noticed that he could not remember their discussions, he misplaced things and forgot appointments,” the complaint alleges.

Seau also began to demonstrate “self-destructive, aggressive and violent behavior,” along with “severe depression,” during which episodes he became “irrational and unreachable.”  He “lashed out verbally and physically at his staff, friends, and family,” and he “entered a devastating cycle of depression and alcohol abuse.”

The lawsuit further claims that he became “a compulsive, manic gambler,” which led to “gambling binges” resulting in the loss of “significant amounts of money.”

While the timeline of the various manifestations of alleged brain damage isn’t clear, the fact that Seau began to show symptoms as early as the mid-1990s gives rise to an obvious question:  Why did he keep playing football?

Moreover, the long list of symptoms highlights one of the biggest challenges Seau’s lawyers will face.  Arguably, the NFL was fully aware of the risks of concussions in October 2009, once the NFL acknowledged the problem to Congress and began to make significant changes in the management of players who have suffered brain injuries.  If, at that point, Seau was exhibiting symptoms (and based on the lawsuit he clearly was), the two-year clock began to tick.  And, as the NFL surely will argue, it expired more than six months before his death.

“We were saddened to learn that Junior, a loving father and teammate, suffered from CTE,” Seau’s family said in a statement.  “While Junior always expected to have aches and pains from his playing days, none of us ever fathomed that he would suffer a debilitating brain disease that would cause him to leave us too soon.”

This suggests that the Seau lawsuit will hinge on the argument that the window for filing suit didn’t open until Seau was diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy, after his death.  While a court may agree, there’s a good chance that the case will be dismissed fairly quickly, under the argument that Seau was having cognitive problems years in advance, and that his deadline for filing a lawsuit expired before he died.

51 responses to “Seau lawsuit outlines symptoms dating back to mid-1990s

  1. Rodger Goodell, welcome to your nightmare. Your attempts to inoculate the NFL through a draconian pursuit of bogus charges against the Saints can not save you from this mega-lawsuit. The jury/judge will not cut you any slack because you came down hard on New Orleans. They will listen to Seau’s surviving family members and view a few gruesome pics of Seau post-suicide and your goose is cooked. Hope the NFL has deep pockets.

  2. So the lawsuit admits substance abuse, but wants you to believe it had nothing to do with his symptoms? I’m fairly certain a number of drunks demonstrate “self-destructive, aggressive and violent behavior,” “emotional instability,” and experience “dizziness”. “[Lashing] out verbally and physically at his staff, friends, and family” seems to be pretty common among people with drinking problems as well. I’m sure it was just head trauma though.

  3. Seems like his family was well aware of the problems and did nothing to stop him from playing either while they were continuing to enjoy the gravy train.

    Not that the team doctors shouldn’t have identified this as stopped him playing, but there should be some responsibility on the family’s side too if they saw all those symptoms and didn’t go to the team and league at that point.

  4. While extremely sad, I think anyone knows that continued head trauma over years and years is going to have some repercussions. He likely suffered symptoms while still playing and it’s not hard to associate mental issues with smashing your head into others over and over again.

    Football players today now know the risks and continue to play the game. The trade-off of sacrificing your body and possibly mind in the long run for large sums of money and glory continues today.

  5. He was likely an alcoholic. We all know that’s a game-changer. The excerpts suggest that some physiological symptom led to alcohol… will be interesting to heard the judges finding based on totality of evidence collected.

  6. I dont see how they can win this. Men chose to play this game. It’s always been a dangerous game. Theyve been paid a lot of money to play this game.

    Are we to believe, that the NFL has some super secret researchers that knew of the long term impacts of blows to the head that no one else knew about? Please. Enough.

    I feel for the family, but Im sorry, this needs to be tossed out. First you reap the benefits of a dangerous high paying career, then turn around and want to sue because of it?

  7. People who never played 1 down of football their entire lives suffer from these same symptoms. Yet football players sue because they choose this way of life. Love it.

  8. I wonder if the lawsuit mentions that he was a r aging alcoholic and pill popper…? and lists these as possible contributing factors???

  9. If these guys are forced to play football maybe the teams should give them millions and millions of dollars because it is really dangerous. Oh, wait………

  10. I know a guy who went to USC at the same time as Junior, and he told me that Seau used to beat up random people for sport. Not minimizing his brain injury, but it seems the dude had issues for awhile.

  11. “Why did he keep playing football?”

    Stupid question. He kept playing because it’s the only thing he truly loved and had spent most of his life doing. That’s why most football players stay with it too long, just like boxers and those who compete in other contact sports at a very high level.

    How can you stop and sell insurance or become a talking head after having the life most NFL players have before they’re injured and discarded?

    It has to take incredible strength to make the adjustment.

  12. Doesn’t someone need to show the NFL knew? I’m not a lawyer but that always seemed the damning thing about the tobacco lawsuits, the cigarette companies clearly knew well before they told the public. The NFL seems much more like McDonalds, yeah, we all know fatty foods or hitting your head hard is bad for you, the extent of how bad those things are though did not become apparent until later.

    Also, if the symptoms started so early, doesn’t that mean the damage could have occurred before he entered the NFL?

  13. The NFL and team owners are powerful people with friends in both state and federal government. Their ability to operate outside of the anti-trust restrictions speaks to that fact. Fans hate it when athletes play outside the rules (Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens) but they don’t mind owners rigging the game. Players are condemned for using peds but it is ok to destroy their bodies over time from the violence of the play. The fans deride any naysayers by claiming it was the players’ choice and they are well paid to play.

    We just had an NFL championship game with more helmet to helmet hits than I can remember seeing in in one game in all of my 50 years of following the sport. The most violent hit in the game forced a game closing turnover and sent the player to the locker room. The wining coach called the hit “football at its finest”.

    I love football but I am not kidding myself about obvious truths.

  14. “While Junior always expected to have aches and pains from his playing days, none of us ever fathomed that he would suffer a debilitating brain disease that would cause him to leave us too soon.”

    Forgiveme, but didnt he shoot himself?

  15. So what are boxers gonna get for their pain and suffering? They end up in far worse shape than football players and they ain’t suing anybody. EVERYONE knows the consequences and still continue to play. Now you wanna sue? C’mon Man!!!!
    I would have lost a limb to be a pro sports player and been happy to do it. You can’t turn around and sue the people that allowed you to live out your dream.

  16. Sorry, but the NFL didn’t force you into the draft and then force you to report to camp and then force you to sign a contract. And it certainly did not force you to come back from retirement and continue playing when you and your family knew you had problems.

    Every job has its risks. Some more than others. Should the NFL help and compensate its athletes for the risks they take? Yeah. And I think they do. It was all those millions they gave you.

  17. CLASSIC. I am suing the NFL because concussions made me binge gamble away all my money LOL. I wish people had to have at least a shred of decency to become a lawyer.

  18. It seems to me that in dealing with the Statute of Limitations issue, Seau’s attorney may have shot himself in the foot by alleging, in the complaint, that Seau began experiencing symptoms in the early 90s. In addressing the SOL argument, Seau clearly “knew” or should have “known”; that is when the clock began to tick for bringing this action.

  19. Can I assume since they blame the league they will give back every penny Junior earned playing I. the NFL? Sorry Junior’s gone, sad his family is looking to get paid. Get a life gold diggers.

  20. As sad as it is to say, Junior Seau had a lifetime of cashing checks for showing up places and doing tv appearances ahead of him. His family is suing because they lost their cash cow and were not wise enough to invest some of the millions he had been making since the mid 90s.

  21. So Junior played for another 15 years after he allegedly first noticed/experienced concussion symptoms and now his “Estate” wants to sue? Tragic and sad situation but at best/worst it is a case of Contributory Negligence thus no settlement should be awarded, IMO.

  22. As sad as Juniors death was his family still has to realize that he was playing a dangerous game that takes it toll on the body. The trade off is fame and fortune. NFL players are aware of this when they sign up. This would be like a coal miner suing bcuz he got black lung after 20 yrs of work; he knows the risks when he took the job.

  23. Are they going to sue Pop Warner, county leagues , his high school and college team also? Get over it, y knew what could happen, why do you think you get payed so much.

  24. Seau “lashed out verbally and physically at his staff, friends and family.” But he also “was a loving father.”
    In my household, verbal and physical abuse dosen’t translate into loving. The Seaus better get their story straight…

  25. Then why didn’t he quit then? I have no respect for these players suing. Players know the dangers and I don’t see them retiring now. They want the fame and the money

  26. paul82461 says: Are they going to sue Pop Warner, county leagues , his high school and college team also?

    Don’t worry, they will. But first they want to suck the NFL dry.

  27. What did he or his family do to address those symptoms that he’d been feeling since the nineties? Did they consult a Dr. or psychiatrist? How is any of this the NFL’s fault?

  28. Question: How many people retired or quit playing this year due to the studies that have come out linking football to CTE?

    Answer: None

    Why? Because these guys either A) Love the game regardless of the inherent, and well documented risks or B) have no other talents that would allow them to earn the type of living that they do now and aren’t willing to give up their lifestyle.

  29. There needs to be a settlement like the tobacco settlement. People need not only medical care but some sort of counseling as well. The NFL needs to take better care of it’s former players while working to minimize concussions in the future. The simple fact is players are bigger and faster than ever before but their brains aren’t better protected. We can figure this out and save the game we all love.

  30. So when a coal miner dies of lung problems, his estate can sue the company claiming that the company didn’t make him aware that coal mining could be bad for your health?

  31. I feel terrible for the Seau family about what happened, but are they trying to say that Junior (as well as all other players trying to sue the NFL over this) DIDN’T know that repeated head injuries in the NFL could cause health problems ???

    I’m no lawyer, but good luck trying to make that point in court. I knew that back in high school.

    Plus, no one forced these players to play in the NFL, they all wanted to of their own free will.

  32. Considering football players are still hiding their concussion symptoms despite having all the knowledge regarding head trauma at their finger tips; I’m having a hard time believing that Seau would have made different choices. Therefore how is the NFL liable, if Seau likely wouldn’t gave changed anything even if he was aware of the dangers.

  33. Uhhhh … I thought the players paid dues to the NFLPA. Shouldn’t they be responsible for helping their members?

    Maybe all of the dues go to Maurice Smith’s hat collection.

  34. What strikes me is that Al Toon knew enough to retire in 1992 at age 29 after too many concussions.

    Still don’t see his name on any of the lawsuits.

  35. I wish the NFL would stop taking the politcal route here and tell these people to go to you know where.

  36. judsonjr says:
    Jan 23, 2013 7:58 PM
    What strikes me is that Al Toon knew enough to retire in 1992 at age 29 after too many concussions.

    Still don’t see his name on any of the lawsuits.


    Not only that, but football players wear helmets to protect their heads… They wear HELMETS, to PROTECT, their HEADS. Think about that for a second.

  37. Lot of talk now that helmets make it worst. The helmet protects the skull not the brain. So when u have a fakse security u make ur head a projectile weapon and your head essentially becomes a rattle

  38. kvvvv2391 says: Jan 23, 2013 4:12 PM

    I wonder if the lawsuit mentions that he was a r aging alcoholic and pill popper…? and lists these as possible contributing factors???


    Well, genius… If you actually read the article, you would know that the complaint DOES refer to his manic behavior including alcoholism, gambling addition, insomnia, depression and prescription medication use, and alleges that those are symptoms of the very CTE from which he died, further strengthening their case.

  39. Seau’s story is sad. I feel for him and his family. That being said, this should not be a lawsuit. This isn’t like mesothelioma or asbestosis that workers got while working in unknowingly unsafe environments. This is a football player whose job is to hit people as hard as he can. He made millions for his family and knowingly was putting his body at risk.
    I pray that the courts use some common sense in this case and strike it down as ludicrous. We are living in a litigious society, however, and personal responsibility is no longer expected so who knows?
    Common sense!!!

  40. Warning label on Riddle helmets:
    WARNING: NO HELMET CAN PREVENT SERIOUS HEAD OR NECK INJURIES A PLAYER MIGHT RECEIVE WHILE PARTICIPATING IN FOOTBALL. Do not use this helmet to butt, ram or spear an opposing player. This is in violation of the football rules and such use can result in severe head or neck injuries, paralysis or death to you and possible injury to your opponent. Contact in football may result in CONCUSSION-BRAIN INJURY which no helmet can prevent. Symptoms include: loss of consciousness or memory, dizziness, headache, nausea or confusion. If you have symptoms, immediately stop playing and report them to your coach, trainer and parents. Do not return to a game or practice until all symptoms are gone and you have received medical clearance. Ignoring this warning may lead to another and more serious or fatal brain injury.

  41. First saw a warning label on a helmet in 1983 coaching HS football. I remember thinking… really, you need a warning label to say you could get hurt playing football?

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