We got official word Thursday night that Junior Seau’s death has been ruled a suicide. His tragic passing at just 43 years old has prompted a ton of questions about depression in retired football players and how it relates to the way the NFL handles head injuries.
Boston University’s Center for Traumatic Encephalopathy has studied the brains of several dead football players. The center’s mission is to search for injuries consistent with blows to the head, and it would like to take a look at Seau’s brain.
Earlier today, Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King reported that the researchers were hoping to obtain the 12-time Pro Bowler’s brain. There is no word on whether or not Seau’s family would be willing to donate any part of his body to science.
Seau never had any documented concussions during his playing career, but during his heyday in the 90s there was far less awareness about the long-term impact of head injuries. Other than quarterbacks, players almost never came out of games because of concussions. We may never know if head trauma led to Seau’s suicide but being able to study his brain would certainly help answer a lot of questions.
It has been almost two days since news began to trickle out about Seau’s passing and I still can’t believe it. This is tragic for so many reasons, but most of all because Seau was such a wonderful person. He made so many people so happy and brightened so many lives, that this has been so difficult to take.
Hopefully some good will come from this tragedy, whether it is awareness of depression among former NFL players or through the studying of Seau’s brain.