Dec 7, 2008; Seattle, WA, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Junior Seau (55) during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field. The Patriots defeated the Seahawks 24-21. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Junior Seau Dead at 43


Wednesday, May 2nd has to be the NFL’s darkest day of the year. First, the Bountygate suspensions were handed out earlier in the day and now comes much, much worse news.

Junior Seau, 43, was found dead at his home north of San Diego early this afternoon. A handgun was found close to the body so for now it’s ruled a suicide.

Incredibly, Seau’s career spanned 20 seasons in the NFL. That’s unheard of almost – even for kickers. Seau was a 12-time Pro-Bowl linebacker, half of those being All-Pro seasons. He spent most of his career with the Chargers and was part of the 1994 Super Bowl squad.

What’s even more sad is the fact that 7 other players from that team have already passed away and all were under the age of 45.

Craig “Ironhead” Heyward died in 2006 of a brain tumor.

Seau’s recent past was a troubled one. In October 2010, he was arrested for suspicion of Domestic Violence and hours later his SUV plunged 100 feet down an oceanside cliff with him driving. I recall hearing the news then and wondering if it wasn’t a suicide attempt, given the timing.

One can only speculate about the events leading up to this tragic end until more information comes out, but I’ll tell you right now what’s ultimately behind his troubles.

Traumatic Brain Injury.

This is 100% my personal opinion, folks, but the first thing I thought about upon hearing the news was that it is related to head trauma.

He never ran afoul of the law while he played and was one of the more upstanding role models for kids his entire career. It wasn’t until after he retired that his first arrest occured to my knowledge. That was the October 2010 incident. 7 fellow teammates dead before 45? That’s no coincidence. It’s almost 20% of the Chargers’ 1994 Super Bowl roster!

Junior’s apparent suicide is extremely tragic, but I can’t say it was a shock. I do recall hearing about the SUV crash and arrest in October 2010 and really wondered about it. Now, I feel like I was right back then and I’ve never been sadder to be right about something as I was at the time.

If there is ANY “good” that can come from Junior’s death, it will be that head injuries/contact will be even MORE scrutinized in the upcoming and subsequent seasons. Sunlight is the best solution, the saying goes, and if nothing else, Seau’s suicide will bring even more sunlight onto the problem.

Autopsies usually take a few weeks to get results from, but I’ll be very very interested to know what the findings are. Unfortunately, the trail of dead athletes is way too long to list here and that just underscores the issue.

Today will be a big day in NFL history for all the wrong reasons. Which direction the league goes with this is up to people a lot more powerful than I am, but they have to be thinking the same thing.

Get to the bottom of this!

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Tags: Craig Heyward Junior Seau Suicide