Study shows Seau suffered from brain disease

Published On January 10, 2013 | By Karoline Zacharer

On Thursday, the National Institutes of Health came out with a report saying that former Patriot Junior Seau suffered degenerative brain disease when he committed suicide this spring. The study that the NIH completed determined that Seau had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

The study looked at three unidentified brains, one of which was Seau’s.

“The brain was independently evaluated by multiple experts, in a blind fashion. We had the opportunity to get multiple experts involved in a way they wouldn’t be able to directly identify his tissue even if they knew he was one of the individuals studied,” said Dr. Russell Lonser, who led the study.

They were able to determine that Seau had suffered effects of CTE because his brain was consistent with those of people who have had exposure to repetitive head injuries.

After his death in May, Seau’s family requested that his brain be studied for this exact reason. There has been much debate in the NFL in recent years over concussions and the long-term effects they can have. There is even a class-action lawsuit of former players against the NFL over the concussion issue.

Boston University has a center to study CTE and has so far discovered that 34 former NFL players and nine former college football players suffered from the disease, and those are just the ones who were autopsied. Boston University’s findings probably only scratch the surface of a much larger problem in one of America’s favorite sports. Plain and simple: football is causing brain damage.

Seau played 20 seasons in the NFL as a linebacker for the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and finally, the New England Patriots before he retired in 2009.

His family spoke out Thursday morning, offering their comments on the diagnosis.

“I was not surprised after learning a little about CTE that he had it,” said his son, Tyler. “I don’t think any of us were aware of the side effects that could be going on with head trauma until he passed away. We didn’t know his behavior was from head trauma.”

Tyler also noted that he had regrets that he couldn’t help his father.

“I was more just kind of angry I didn’t do something more and have the awareness to help him more, and now it is too late.”

Another one of Seau’s sons, high school junior Jake, played football but switched to lacrosse after seeing what his father went through.

“He is a good football player and probably could continue,” said Seau’s ex-wife, Gina. “But especially now watching what his dad went through, he says, ‘Why would I risk lacrosse for football?’

“I didn’t have to have a discussion with him after we saw what Junior went through.”

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About The Author

Karoline Zacharer is a senior at Bridgewater State University majoring in communications. For the past four years, she has covered everything from football to women's lacrosse as a reporter for BSU's Bears Sports Network. She has also written minor league baseball news for You can follow Karoline on Twitter at @KarolineZ.