Junior Seau: Football's Newest Victim
Today Junior Seau was found dead of an apparent self inflicted gunshot wound. Seau retired 2 years ago after playing linebacker in the NFL for 13 years. Seau was just the latest casualty of the game that Americans love more than any other. Many former NFL players have died as a result of drug addictions and suicides in the last few years and it is becoming increasingly alarming how players are permanently disabled by traumatic brain injuries suffered during their careers. The current generation of retired and soon to be retired players like Teddy Bruschi and Ray Lewis are probably going to be the worst affected by CTE, a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated traumatic head injuries of which depression and confusion are 2 of the major symptoms.
Players over the last 25 years have become progressively faster and stronger and the impacts suffered by players from this era were far more dangerous than those of the old NFL. The NFL never had head injury specific rules until the last few years and even now the rules are not enough to prevent players from being able to play too soon after suffering a concussion and possibly even playing with a concussion.
Research has shown that concussions as well as head impacts not significant enough to warrant a diagnosis of a concussion cause changes in the brain that linger beyond the point in time when the athlete appears to be back to normal. It is extremely sad to see that many football players either do not understand the horrendous repercussions of playing with a traumatic brain injury or simply choose to play and risk developing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and demetia before ey reach the age of 45 years.
Until the NFL decides to fund a landmark study on the effects and long term consequences of traumatic brain injury and how repeated head impacts can cause problems later in life the game of football will continue to destroy the athletes that we grow to love over the course of their careers. I hope that in the future players and their family members will become more informed about how playing too soon after or with a traumatic brain injury and they will decide that their life and the life of their families are more important than a game.