It has been a very sad week for the family of Junior Seau, former NFL football player for the San Diego Chargers. Earlier this week, the former football player was found dead at his home with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. Friends, family and fans of Junior Seau alike have been collectively shocked and heartbroken by his death. And those closest to Junior Seau keep repeating the same statements that he gave zero signs of depression and seemed happy. Depression is a complex, horrible condition that at times does lead to the unthinkable. But there is a new, notable affliction out there known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, which could have very well played a part in Junior Seau's death.
There are questions surrounding Seau's death because he seemingly gave no warning signs. No suicide note was found. But there is a condition that has been discovered in football players that have had numerous concussions or blows to the head, A neurological disorder, CTE can lead to unpredictable behavior that is similar to Alzeimer's disease and dementia. As of late, Junior Seau's family has expressed interested in donating his brain to research to further information on CTE and find out if Seau indeed had it.
Did Head Trama Cause Junior Seau to Commit Suicide?There is a group called the Brain Injury Institute that studies the effects of concussions on the brain and behavior, and there is a long line of football players that have retired due to memory loss, dizziness, amnesia and depression, such as Roger Staubach, Johnny Unitas, Merill Hoge, Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Wayne Chrebet, Al Toon and Dave Pear. Many other players may have CTE and not know it.
Most recently, former Atlanta Falcons Safety, Ray Esterling, killed himself last month with a gunshot wound to the head at age 62. He is reportedly to have experienced dementia and depression after his football career. Six months ago Esterling had expressed interest in donating his brain for research to see if there was a correlation between concussions and the symptoms he struggled with. He even went as far as visiting Boston University and underwent tests, only to return home frustrated, agitated and disappointed in the experience. His wife had reported that he was frequently getting lost when out without his wife, having to call her so he could get to his destination. His family has requested that his brain be examined.
It will take several months for researchers to determine whether or not Junior Seau suffered from CTE. Brain damage awareness in NFL players came to the forefront in 2002 after Pittsburgh Steelers center, Mike Webster's brain was studied. Researchers found extensive brain trauma that was due to hits during football. Consequently his behavior before his death was extremely unusual and unpredictable. Webster died of a heart attack at age 50. His son is an active advocate for research of CTE.
So where does this leave us mothers with sons? Do we let them play football? As a mother of three sons and one daughter, without even knowing this latest information, I seem to steer my boys away from football. And this upsets my dad, as a former football player and coach. It is good to remember the football players that are all right. And any time we can get our children involved in sports it will keep them out of trouble. Our hope is that more helpful information will surface about CTE. One things is for sure, we should keep Junior Seau's mom in our thoughts and prayers this mother's day.