Oct 25, 2009; London, ENGLAND; New England Patriots linebacker Junior Seau (55) during the regular season NFL International Series game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Buccaneers 35-7. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Seau Autopsy Update

NFL.com wire reports the following from the medical examiner’s office:

“Seau’s family has decided to allow researchers to study his brain for evidence of damage stemming from concussions, San Diego Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell told The Los Angeles Times on Thursday.”

“The family was considering this almost from the beginning, but they didn’t want to make any emotional decisions,” Mitchell said. “And when they came to a joint decision that absolutely this was the best thing, it was a natural occurrence for the Seau family to go forward.”

Upon learning of Seau’s tragic death on Wednesday, I posted what little is usually known about such things when they happen and postulated that his suicide had to come from TBI, or Traumatic Brain Injury.

When I posted 2 days ago about autopsy results taking time, I was referring to the more detailed things like the condition of Seau’s brain. Determining that Seau indeed died from a gunshot wound to the chest isn’t something it would have taken a genius to figure out, given the sad circumstances. Sometimes Medical Examiners must state the obvious.

He was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest and the medical examiner confirmed this as the direct cause of death. The reasons for the suicide are always less straightforward, but I stand by my belief that Seau had to have had significant damage to his brain. His ex-wife, Gina, has said that he had concussions in his career although he never reported any of them. Unfortunately, the NFL is a place for “tough guys only” and players undoubtedly felt peer pressure to be on the field instead of “sitting out with a headache.”

They’re also constantly worried about someone coming in, playing well, and taking their job.

It certainly happens. Dan Marino did it to…..who? Anyone remember? David Woodley.

There’s a reason Marino is more well-known than Woodley. Such things do NOT escape the notice of the other players on the team and around the league. There’s an unwritten rule that you don’t lose your job due to injury. That unwritten rule isn’t worth the paper it isn’t written on. Ask Drew Bledsoe that same question regarding a kid named Tom Brady.

Keep a sharp eye on this case, folks. I’ll be shocked if they do NOT find significant damage to the man’s brain. But what will it mean?

It’ll mean the NFL will tighten down even more on the hits.

They already have rules about hitting a “defenseless” player, which is a good thing. Who wants to see Steve Smith laid out on a cheap shot and miss 9 games? Fans want to see the stars playing, not subs struggling.

We also would like to see them suffer a lot less than the people like Seau, Mike Webster, Lyle Alzedo and scores of others have and that died at such a relatively young age.

Just try to remember this sort of thing the next time you cry about how the NFL puts a skirt on the quarterbacks, or when James Harrison gets fined for laying the lumber on an opposing running back, leading with his head.

Expect Seau’s high-profile death here to kick the NFL into yet another round of open, even more frank discussions of contact and restricting certain types of contact even further.

They’ve seen the problems cut blocks can cause on linemens’ legs and put in a rule years ago that you cannot block below the waist IF that person is already engaged with another blocker up high. Most people are probably unaware of this change, but the defensive linemen certainly have welcomed it.

The NFL will always be a violent place. People still get hurt even with rule changes and that will always be the case.

To borrow a phrase we’ve all seen travelling along the road in construction zones: “Let ‘em work, Let ‘em Live!”

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Tags: Dan Marino Drew Bledsoe Junior Seau Lyle Alzedo Mike Webster Tom Brady Traumatic Brain Injury

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