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. Scottish Mama

    @banasy I thought that a long time ago too. It seems everytime I write something about the Koch Bros.

    May 4, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dazzle ©

    Good Afternoon, I see that the Trojan Horse troll is at it again. @banasy, you could be right. No matter how many times one reports abuse some of these ridiculous posts still stay.

    May 4, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Hey dazzle©.
      Can you say immature?
      I thought you could.

      May 4, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    Or, everytime you make an appearance here...it attacks the regs.
    Like it or not, you're a reg.
    It only attacks women, also.
    Notice that?

    May 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • dazzle ©

      It is indeed immature and interestingly it only goes after women. Does this usually start so early on Friday?

      May 4, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Scottish Mama


    May 4, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chrissy

    not me @ ll:09.

    May 4, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. chrissy

    No i was NOT referring to you, i told you that the other day. I believe you get trolled almost as often as me and i think its a regular, that never gets trolled.

    May 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. chrissy

    Ahh i see why you thought that, when i said everytime *she* posts i meant she as in journalist. The troll i believe is male. Sorry for that misunderstanding.

    May 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mickey1313

    If you want to get paid millions of dollars to play a game, i have no sympathy at all.

    May 4, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mickey1313

    Self inflicted gunshot is not a sickness, it's weakness. Mca on the other hand was a sad death, cancer at47.

    May 4, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dazzle ©

    @troll of Scottish Mama, women don't have back hair. If they did they would not shave it.

    May 4, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. fernace

    Oh no, not the trolls! It is curious that sensible, on thread posts are deleted, yet the trolls are allowed free reign....of bullying! Because that's what it is, pure & simple! Blog Bullying & I challenge CNN moderators to do something about it! Having said that, I'd like to toss in my few ideas about the topic! Does any1 know of any bad medical news Mr. Seau may have recieved recently? I can't help but notice that he preserved his head, which is the area most often chosen by gun suicide victims! Did he leave behind a note? This situation, pending findings, will most likely join the Alex Karras & other players, lawsuit! All jobs carry a risk, stacking groceries, construction work (1 of the riskiest in the world), even sitting at a computer (carpal tunnel, any1?)! Most work places adhere to "safety rules," which are updated regularly! Why not the NFL? What are they hiding??

    May 4, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chrissy

    lol @ fernace, more curious why cnn knows who he is, and he offends so many people on a daily basis yet they let him continue. Guess they dont care if they lose loyal readers.

    May 4, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. chrissy

    lol @ mary, wrong. His timing was just perfect actually, it confirmed you are NOT trolling me since i would assume it would take longer than 2 mins to switch up names and email and post.

    May 4, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dazzle ©

    Not me and for future reference jacker, dazzle hates Scotch.

    May 4, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. chrissy

    @ superman and kellyintulsa, my little boy will be out of ICU by sunday as long as no other probs occur. Will ttyt.

    May 4, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
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