Junior Seau died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in May of 2012. As is typically the case nowadays when football players kill either themselves or others, everyone rushed to judgment regarding what the specific cause was. The general consensus -- before any official medical reports surfaced -- was that Seau’s death likely at least partially stemmed from some sort of mental health condition.
On Thursday morning, results from a National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicated that everyone who rushed to judgment after Seau’s death was probably right to do so. Based on their findings, the NIH concluded that Seau’s brain revealed abnormalities that are typically consistent with what you expect to see from people dealing with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
''The brain was independently evaluated by multiple experts, in a blind fashion,'' Dr. Russell Lonser (who oversaw the study) told the Associated Press. ''We had the opportunity to get multiple experts involved in a way they wouldn't be able to directly identify his tissue even if they knew he was one of the individuals studied.''
Seau’s brain was compared to the brains of two other people. His in particular showed “exposure to repetitive head injuries.''
''I was not surprised after learning a little about CTE that he had it,'' Seau's 23-year-old son Tyler later said of the NIH’s findings. ''He did play so many years at that level. I was more just kind of angry I didn't do something more and have the awareness to help him more, and now it is too late.
''I don't think any of us were aware of the side effects that could be going on with head trauma until he passed away. We didn't know his behavior was from head trauma...He emotionally detached himself and would kind of `go away' for a little bit,'' Tyler Seau said. ''And then the depression and things like that. It started to progressively get worse.''
The NFL released this statement regarding the NIH’s findings:
''We appreciate the Seau family's cooperation with the National Institutes of Health. The finding underscores the recognized need for additional research to accelerate a fuller understanding of CTE.
''The NFL, both directly and in partnership with the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and other leading organizations, is committed to supporting a wide range of independent medical and scientific research that will both address CTE and promote the long-term health and safety of athletes at all levels.''
Seau played in the NFL for 20 seasons. He retired from professional football in 2009.
(Kudos Fox Sports)