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Entries in Junior Seau (5)

Thursday
Jan102013

Exclusive: Junior Seau Suffered Brain Disease from NFL Hits

Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A team of scientists who analyzed the brain tissue of renowned NFL linebacker Junior Seau after his suicide last year have concluded the football player suffered a debilitating brain disease likely caused by two decades worth of hits to the head, researchers and his family exclusively told ABC News and ESPN.

In May, Seau, 43, shot himself in the chest at his home in Oceanside, Calif., leaving behind four children and many unanswered questions.

Seau's family donated his brain to neuroscientists at the National Institutes for Health who are conducting ongoing research on traumatic brain injury and football players.

A team of independent researchers who did not know they were studying Seau's brain all concluded he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease typically caused by multiple hits to the head.

"What was found in Junior Seau's brain was cellular changes consistent with CTE," said Dr. Russell Lonser, chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at Ohio State University, who led the study of Seau's brain while he was at NIH.

Patients with CTE, which can only be diagnosed after death, display symptoms "such as impulsivity, forgetfulness, depression, [and] sometimes suicidal ideation," Lonser said.

Seau's family described to ABC News and ESPN a long descent into depression in the years prior to his death.

Gina Seau, his ex-wife with whom he remained close following their divorce, said the linebacker had difficulty sleeping and became withdrawn and "detached emotionally" from his children.  In one exchange, he described his mood as "low" and "dark."

"A lot of things, towards the end of his life, patterns that we saw and things that worried us, it makes sense now," she said of the diagnosis.

The night before his death, Junior Seau sent a text message to his ex-wife and children in which he simply wrote, "I love you."  They were the last words anyone would hear from him.

More than 30 NFL players have in recent years been diagnosed with CTE, a condition once known as "punch drunk" because it affected boxers who had taken multiple blows to the head.  Last year, 4,000 retired players joined a class-action lawsuit against the league over its alleged failure to protect players from brain injuries.

The NFL has said it did not intentionally hide the dangers of concussions from players and is doing everything it can now to protect them.

On Thursday, the league issued a statement in response to NIH's finding: "We appreciate the Seau family’s cooperation with the National Institutes of Health.  The finding underscores the recognized need for additional research to accelerate a fuller understanding of CTE.  The NFL, both directly and in partnership with the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and other leading organizations, is committed to supporting a wide range of independent medical and scientific research that will both address CTE and promote the long-term health and safety of athletes at all levels." 

"The NFL clubs have already committed a $30 million research grant to the NIH, and we look forward to making decisions soon with the NFL Players Association on the investment of $100 million for medical research that is committed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. We have work to do, and we’re doing it," the statement continued.

Gina Seau said she and her ex-husband expected physical injuries from playing professional football but never thought "you're putting your brain and your mental health at a greater risk."

Junior Seau, she said, was never formally diagnosed with a concussion but routinely complained of symptoms associated with concussions after receiving hits to the head during games and in practices in 20 seasons in the NFL.

"The head-to-head contact, the collisions are just, they're out of control," Gina Seau said.

"He was a warrior and he loved the game," she added.  "But ... I know that he didn't love the end of his life."

For the Seaus, football gave them everything and, they believe, it has now taken it all away.  They understand its attraction and, all too well, its routine danger.

"I think it's a gamble," Gina Seau said.  "Just be extremely aware of what could potentially happen to your life."

None of the Seau children play football anymore and their mother is glad of that.

"It's not worth it for me to not have a dad," said one of the Seaus' sons, Tyler Seau, 23.  "So, to me, it's not worth it."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
May042012

Ex-NFL Players Sue League for Ignoring Dangers of Concussions

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Coming on the heels of former San Diego Charger Junior Seau's suicide, more than 100 former football players filed a lawsuit Thursday that alleges the National Football League (NFL) deliberately misled them about the dangers of concussions.

According to the filing in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, the players, who join over 1,500 others who've made similar claims, accuse the NFL of constantly refuting "the connection between concussions and brain injury."

While what caused Seau to kill himself Wednesday at his Oceanside, Calif., home may never be known, investigators will look into the possibility that he suffered from repeated blows to the head during his 20-year career that ended in 2010.

The lawsuit calls for the NFL "to take reasonable steps necessary to protect players from devastating head injuries. Moreover, the NFL has downplayed and misrepresented the issues and misled players concerning the risks associated with concussions."

Previous lawsuits have been combined for a trial in Philadelphia that has yet to be scheduled.

As officials have done before, the NFL contends it looks out for the safety of its players and maintains that all the lawsuits are without merit.

Ultimately, the former players may have science on their side since studies have shown a link between concussions and a neurodegenerative condition known at CTE, which causes Alzheimer's-like symptoms and mood swings.

At least 12 dead NFL players were diagnosed with CTE during postmortem exams.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May032012

Junior Seau's Death Ruled a Suicide by San Diego County Coroner

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images(SAN DIEGO) -- The San Diego County Coroner has ruled former longtime NFL linebacker Junior Seau's death a suicide, according to a news release.

Seau, 43, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound of the chest Wednesday morning at his Oceanside, Calif., home.

Seau's body will be released to the family's mortuary after "completion of administrative responsibilities in the death certificate."

Officials conducted a forensic autopsy, which includes "a full examination of a decedent's body and organs and collection of specimens for laboratory studies."

The Medical Examiner's Office is "awaiting the family's decision regarding study of the brain for repetitive injury by researchers outside of the office," the coroner's release said.

At a press conference outside Seau's home on Wednesday, Oceanside Police Chief Frank McCoy said a woman who identified herself as Seau's girlfriend called 911 at 9:45 a.m. PT and told the dispatcher she had found Seau unconscious in a bedroom with a gunshot wound to the chest.

McCoy said a handgun was found near Seau's body but no suicide note was found at the scene.

Seau's mother broke down in tears at the press conference Wednesday, saying, "Take me, take me, leave my son, but it's too late."

The Chargers released a statement to ABC News' San Diego affiliate saying, "Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now. We ask everyone to stop what they're doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family."

Seau drove his SUV off a cliff in Carlsbad, Calif., in 2010, hours after being released from jail following a domestic violence arrest regarding his 25-year-old live-in girlfriend. Seau told police he drove off the cliff because he fell asleep behind the wheel, and police saw no evidence of alcohol or drugs, though some suspected Seau intended to commit suicide.

Seau played in the NFL for 20 years for teams including the Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. He leaves behind three children and an ex-wife, Gina Deboer.

Multiple former NFL players have committed suicide in recent years, possibly as a result of brain injuries, including former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, who also shot himself in the chest, ex-Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Terry Long, and Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Andre Waters.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May022012

Former NFL Star Junior Seau Found Dead

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images(OCEANSIDE, Calif.) -- Former longtime NFL linebacker Junior Seau was found dead of a gunshot wound Wednesday at his Oceanside, Calif., home, and authorities are investigating his death as a suicide. He was 43.

At a press conference outside Seau's home, Oceanside Police Chief Frank McCoy said a woman who identified herself as Seau's girlfriend called 911 at 9:45 a.m. PT and told the dispatcher she had found Seau unconscious in a bedroom with a gunshot wound to the chest. McCoy said a handgun was found near Seau's body but no suicide note was found at the scene.

Seau's mother broke down in tears at the press conference, saying "Take me, take me, leave my son, but it's too late."

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San Diego Chargers Chaplain Shawn Mitchell told ABC News that Seau died of a "self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest this morning." The Chargers also released a statement to ABC News' San Diego affiliate saying, "Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now. We ask everyone to stop what they're doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family."

Seau drove his SUV off a cliff in Carlsbad, Calif., in 2010, hours after being released from jail following a domestic violence arrest regarding his 25-year-old live-in girlfriend. Seau told police he drove off the cliff because he fell asleep behind the wheel, and police saw no evidence alcohol or drugs were involved, though some suspected Seau intended to commit suicide.

Seau played in the NFL for 20 years for teams including the Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. He leaves behind three children and an ex-wife, Gina Deboer.

Multiple former NFL players have committed suicide in recent years possibly as a result of brain injuries, including former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, who also shot himself in the chest, ex-Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Terry Long, and Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Andre Waters.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct182010

Junior Seau Charged with Beating Girlfriend, Drives Car Off Cliff

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CARLSBAD, Calif.) -- Former NFL linebacker Junior Seau drove his car off a cliff near a Carlsbad, California beach early Monday morning, just hours after being released from jail following a domestic violence arrest.

The former San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots player was the only passenger inside the Cadillac SUV. Seau is conscious and in a hospital recovering from minor injuries, police said.

According to Carlsbad police, Seau is believed to have fallen asleep behind the wheel. There was no evidence to suggest drugs and alcohol were a factor in the crash, police said.

Seau, 41, was arrested on a charge of felony spousal assault with injury after a dispute with his 25-year-old live-in girlfriend, according to the Oceanside Police Department.

"The victim sustained minor injuries that did not require medical attention," police said in a written statement.  The victim has not yet been identified by police.

ABC News has confirmed the woman's name, but is withholding it.

The woman's stepmother told ABC News that she was upset about the alleged abuse of her stepdaughter.  "My heart is broken.  We are all praying.  We just hope [she's] safe," she said.

Seau was arrested just after midnight Monday after his girlfriend called the cops following a dispute.  Cops arrived at Seau's home, but he had fled.  They called Seau's cell phone and he turned himself in, according to the police report.

The former star linebacker was booked at Vista Detention Facility and released around 3:30 a.m. after he posted bail.  Five hours later, he drove his car off 30-foot cliff overlooking a beach.

Seau is a 12-time Pro Bowler who played for the Chargers, Dolphins and Patriots.  He ended his career last year with New England.

Calls made to Seau's foundation were not returned.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio