The NY Times announced on May 4th that the family of Junior Seau, the prominent football player that committed suicide last week, has asked that his brain be donated to the study of football injuries and their impact on the brain.
Seau's death devastated fans and players alike. Seau was well-liked and those around him said he showed no signs of depression.
What's even more devastating is that two weeks prior, Ray Easterling, another retired football player, took his own as well.
Easterling asked that his brain be donated to the study on football injuries and brain trauma. Ray Easterling was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the NFL, along with Riddle, who manufactures the NFL’s helmets, alleging that the NFL and Riddle concealed the severity of the last effects of concussions and repeated head injuries.
Shawn Mitchell, the Charger’s Chaplain, told The NY Times that Junior and his family very philanthropic people and want to do this to help future athletes.
Many of the brains that have been studied revealed CTE as the cause of death of the ex-players. CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain due to head trauma. Dave Duerson, a former Chicago Bears player who committed suicide last year, left his brain to science and CTE was ruled as his cause of death.
CTE was difficult to diagnose, because the degenerative symptoms mirror those of ALS, Lou Gherig’s disease. In fact, many players who died of ALS and left their brain to science were later discovered to have died from CTE.
Will it be determined that Easterling and Seau suffered from CTE? Is it just a coincidence that these three famed and prominent ex-football players took their own lives? Is there a link between CTE and suicide? If so, Can we prevent this from happening to other football players?
Only time and research will tell. And Seau’s family’s selfless decision will in fact help other future and current players.
Attorney Larry Coben, who is representing Ray Easterling’s wife told The NY Times that he believes these recent tragedies will prompt other players who may be exhibiting signs of head trauma, including dementia to get involved in the Class Action.