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Junior Seau’s tragic death highlighted the deadly impact of CTE
Few linebackers have as much of an impact on the game as Junior Seau. As the head coach of the San Diego Chargers, he became a household name as a fearsome hitter with sideline-to-sideline speed.
He set the benchmark for how the position should be played for nearly two decades.
However, Seau’s body was subjected to years of torture while playing football.
And he committed suicide just a few years after eventually calling it a career.
His terrible passing highlighted the deadly consequences of CTE, a degenerative brain disease connected to the deaths of multiple former NFL players.
Junior Seau established himself as one of the best linebackers in NFL history
Darius Leonard is the best small-school NFL draft pick since 2015.
Playing linebacker in the NFL necessitates extreme tenacity.
And no player embodied that quality more than Junior Seau in the 1990s.
After a remarkable career at USC, the San Diego native was given the opportunity to play with his hometown Chargers.
The fifth overall choice in the 1990 NFL draft lost no time in proving his worth.
After a strong debut season, Seau went on to be named to the Pro Bowl every year from 1991 through 2002.
Despite playing a physically demanding position, he only missed eight games during his 13-year career with the Chargers.
During that time, he was consistently among the league leaders in tackles.
After eight first-team All-Pro honors, Seau joined the Miami Dolphins.
He was more of a backup player at that stage in his career.
The aging linebacker joins the New England Patriots in search of his first Super Bowl ring.
Surprisingly, Seau started 10 games in his 37th season. Unfortunately, he was never able to raise the Lombardi Trophy.
In 2007, New England was on the verge of becoming undefeated before Eli Manning hit David Tyree on one of the most amazing plays in Super Bowl history.
The Patriots were defeated by the Giants, and Seau was denied the coveted Super Bowl ring.
Junior Seau retired following the 2009 season after 268 games and approximately 1,900 tackles.
That should have prepared him for a successful life beyond football.
Only the game that provided him with so much contributed to his premature death.
Seau’s terrible demise demonstrated the fatal nature of CTE
Rashaan Salaam, a former Heisman Trophy winner, died tragically.
Junior Seau, at the age of 43, should have been entering the prime of his career.
He made a fortune as an NFL star for a number of well-known teams. Despite this, he did not live to reach his 44th birthday.
His fiancée discovered him dead inside his Oceanside, California, house on May 2, 2012.
Seau shot himself in the chest but left no suicide note.
People immediately questioned why he would commit suicide just two years after leaving the NFL.
CTE appears to have had a factor in his suicide.
ESPN’s Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru reported in January 2013 that five brain specialists consulted by the National Institutes of Health concluded that Seau had the degenerative brain condition typical in former football players.
Some were surprised because Seau never suffered a diagnosed concussion during his NFL career.
Of course, it’s logical to assume he underwent dozens of them that remained unreported.
His death sparked discord among his children, who had grown up watching their father achieve so much through athletics.
“It obviously hurts a little bit since football was such a big part of our life, our youth,” Sydney, [Seau’s daughter], a freshman at USC, said.
“It hurts to hear that his enthusiasm for the game has affected and impacted our life.”
I wish it didn’t, since we enjoyed it just as much as he did.
And to see that this was the ultimate result is both bittersweet and heartbreaking.”
CTE has been connected to other deceased NFL players
Unfortunately, Junior Seau is not alone. Many former NFL players have died, only for the world to learn that they, too, had CTE.
Chris Henry, a Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver, died in 2009 after being dragged from a moving truck.
He had already developed CTE, according to an autopsy.
That was a significant revelation because he died while still playing in the NFL.
Dave Duerson, a former Chicago Bears safety, died two years later from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
CTE was found by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine.
Duerson committed suicide at the age of 50.
Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez committed suicide barely three years ago.
Hernandez was discovered hanging in his cell by prison officials.
His family later discovered that he had severe CTE despite being only 27 years old at the time of his death.