POSTING BY JB MADDAWG
Too often, it’s easy to forget that people who have had the good fortune to find fame and enjoy the public spotlight, have problems just like everyone else. One needs not look any further than the tragic news of today that at age 43, NFL great Junior Seau committed suicide in his California home for proof of that fact. Drafted into the NFL in 1990, Seau was a man who many players looked up to, and was a guarantee for a first round football Hall of Fame selection. Unfortunately, that induction will now be posthumously.
Seau was a cornerstone of the defense for many years for the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots at the linebacker position. He was feared, but respected and was known as a locker room leader. Many will recall when the volatile young quarterback of the Chargers, Ryan Leaf, went on a tirade against some reporters and the leader Seau simply walked over, grabbed the young man by the arm while escorting him off camera. There are athletes that seem to always walk a dangerous line, but Seau was just the opposite, hence why his death has shocked so many in the sports community.
While the death is tragic, what truly needs to be examined is the effects of the trauma that many athletes suffer over a sports career. Several athletes in the pro football and boxing world have suffered a wide range of problems from blunt head trauma and its behavioral effects. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE, has recently shown that the effects of the trauma can begin to show up well after an athlete has retired. The process slowly degenerates bringing on such afflictions as memory loss, impaired judgement, aggression, depression and even dementia.
Sadly, in many forms, a death as high-profile as Seau’s may shed some light on the 800 pound gorilla in the room that is blunt head trauma. Many forms of media in the past would poke fun at a boxer that has become “punch drunk” or seemingly unintelligent, but as the world begins to educate itself on this subject, hopefully signs can be recognized, and the people who need help will receive it.
This condition may or may not have been one of the factors surrounding Seau’s suicide, but it may at the very least open the discussion. At any rate, the football world and a nation of fans will sorely miss a gentleman and ambassador of the game.