Junior Seau's family consents to brain study, chaplain says
Seau amassed 1,526 tackles, 56.5 sacks and 18 interceptions in his 20-season career with the Chargers, Patriots and Dolphins.
May 4th, 2012
10:06 AM ET

Junior Seau's family consents to brain study, chaplain says

[Updated at 11:06 a.m. ET] The family of former NFL star Junior Seau, who authorities say committed suicide this week, has decided to let researchers study his brain to see whether it was damaged by concussions suffered during his football career, San Diego Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell said Friday.

Seau was found Wednesday in his Oceanside, California, home with what authorities said was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. It is not clear if Seau left a note or an explanation.

The family made the decision to allow the research in hopes it will help NFL players and others in the future, Mitchell said.

Since news of Seau's death broke, there has been speculation about whether repeated hits to his head over the linebacker's 20-year pro career could be a contributing factor.

There is no evidence Seau suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease brought on by multiple concussions, though friends and family have stepped forward to say the legendary linebacker suffered a number of hits to the head during his career.

The San Diego County medical examiner's office said a final autopsy report may take up to 90 days to complete. The autopsy confirmed Seau died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.

Among the institutions the family could donate Seau's brain to is Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, the research center that found former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson suffered degenerative damage to his brain because of repeated hits.

Duerson committed suicide, shooting himself in the chest in 2011 and leaving a suicide note that said he wanted his brain studied for possible damage.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, warned against drawing a conclusion in Seau's case, though he said there were striking similarities between his death and other cases involving football players.

The only way to determine whether Seau suffered CTE is to analyze the brain tissue for "hallmarks of the dementia-like disease," Gupta said.

"We can't know, unless Junior Seau's" brain is analyzed in this way, whether his death was related to CTE, he said.

Though Seau had no reported documented history of concussions, Gupta said "the hits don't necessarily result in diagnosed concussion, but the brain is rattled over and over again."

Seau's death follows last month's suicide of former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, the lead plantiff in a class action lawsuit against the NFL over concussion-related injuries. The lawsuit names more than 1,000 professional players.

More than 100 former professional football players added their names Thursday to the growing list of people suing the NFL, saying it "repeatedly refuted the connection between concussions and brain injury," according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta by attorney Mike McGlamry.

The NFL has repeatedly dismissed the allegations, saying player safety is a priority. "Any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit," it said.

Junior Seau's funeral plans to be announced

1994 Chargers team carries dark legacy

soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    Football players do not magically end up in the pro's...they've taken plenty of punishment from Pop Warner FB on.
    Blaming the NFL seems a little disengenuous to me.
    That being said, a study can be very valuable in understanding how playing football affects the brain, and further safety precautions can be made.

    My condolences to his family.

    May 4, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Matt

    These meat head NFL players are the "tough guys" from high school times 10. and at the end of their football careers, when the body fails, they are left like the emporer. NO CLOTHES!

    May 4, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. Big Kev

    Everyone get ready for flag football on Sunday's now.

    May 4, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. K

    It's is ridiculous, but they are grown men, I don't think its the NFLs responsibility to teach them all the bad things that can possibly happen. I do feel sorry for the player and for his family and I think that donating the brain to research is a great idea that more people should do more often. It would help many,not only dealing with depression, but all the other brain pathologies that we know so little about.
    I am 25 y/o and I had a traumatic brain injury in 2000 and a concussion in 2007, I can empathize with these patients. It not easy dealing with depression, irritability, concentration,sucide ideation etc.

    May 4, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. L Tutt

    Unfortunately for the death of Junior Seau but at this point we don't know the reason he took his life, even if the conclusion has to do with football that was the path he choose. In most sports there are dangers short and long term this is what these men and woman live with ecah day, through technology and more sideline observation by the medical staff may protect players. Football is a contact sport men love to play it and we enjoy watching, I just hope that the NFL will do everytihing within it's power to continue to promote safety for the players. My prays to the Seau family

    May 4, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  6. Big Kev

    These players are being paid millions and millions of dollars and they are well aware of what the sign up for. Lawsuits is definately not the answer. I 'm a vet of ten years military and we raise our hand and sign a paper that says we will possibly be put in life threatning situation. we cannot suit the U.S. govt. if any harm comes to us. It should be the same principle.

    May 4, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Junior Sample's family consented to a brain study.
    The doctors said they did'nt find anything remarkable "about his brain.
    As a matter of fact they didn't find anything. 🙂

    May 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Junior Sample's family consented to a brain study.
    The doctors said they did'nt find anything remarkable "about his brain.
    As a matter of fact they didn't find anything....period. 🙂

    May 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. @Faux Tori

    You're off to a really bad start, since journalists are supposed to write under their own name, and not write fiction. Miss Journalism 101 did you? You apparently completed your degree in Trolling and Jacking. You'll be homeless soon.

    May 4, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. @Faux Tori

    Why are you trying to imitate someone like that? I know you're not her, I am TALKING to her! Grow up, stupidous erectus.

    May 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. @Faux Tori

    Grow. Up. Faker.

    May 4, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Name that troll. Because if I find out it is the same as mine I will out the c u next tues. bia everytime. I am done with you.

      May 4, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Scottish Mama

    Not me coward. When I find out your name I will use it often.

    May 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Thomas

    Mama, you know who it is already. Think dynamic duo, that will give you a clue.

    May 4, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mr Dalloway

    People who commit suicide are not aware of the extreme devastation that's left behind. Pain stays in the heart of loved ones who will constantly think, I wish she/he would have come to me first.

    May 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy©

    Cnn deletes the plea to get rid of the troll, but not the troll itself.
    This leads me to believe that CNN is familiar with the troll's email/IP addy, and sanctions its actions, for some reason.

    I truly do not know who this is.
    Must be either a paid troll, or an actual CNN employee.
    It's distasteful, and makes me wonder about the integrity of CNN.

    May 4, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
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