Junior Seau, NFL all-star for the better part of 20 years, was remembered on the beachfront near his home where he committed suicide last week. As an avid surfer, it was only natural to remember the linebacker with a paddle-out.
Junior Seau was remembered when several hundred people took part in the paddle-out where they formed a circle, held hands and said a prayer for the former football player. They splashed water towards the sky in remembrance, and a cousin of Junior Seau even took Seau’s board out for one last ride while hundreds looked on and cheered from the beach.
The 43-year-old Junior Seau committed suicide by putting a bullet in his chest in his home in Oceanside. His girlfriend was the one to find him.
Because of his nearly two decades in the NFL, Junior Seau suffered from numerous hard hits that led to head trauma. The repeated traumas most likely lead to Junior Seau developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy that is caused by excessive brain trauma; it cannot be diagnosed before death and is a probable cause for Seau’s suicide.
In an article by Barbara Bruno in a Huffington Post blog, “Junior Seau is the twelfth well-known retired professional football player to kill himself in the last 25 years.” Bruno reported that Andre Waters committed suicide in 2006, and the doctor who examined the defensive back’s brain said the 44-year-old “Waters’ brain tissue had degenerated into that of an 85-year-old man with similar characteristics to those of early-stage Alzheimer’s victims.”
Bruno also points out the similarities of Seau’s suicide and Dave Duerson’s suicide. Duerson took his own life in February of 2011 with a similar self-inflicted gun-shot wound to the chest. The difference is that Duerson “left notes and sent text messages indicating he wanted his brain to be donated to Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy—dementia caused by football-related concussions,” reported the Miami News Time.
Although it doesn’t seem that Junior Seau left any notes, his history of opinions on the violent nature of the game seem to indicate he took his life the way he did for the same reasons as Duerson. When talking about rule changes to make football safer, Junior Seau said, “It has to happen. Those who are saying the game is changing for the worse, well, they don’t have a father who can’t remember his name because of the game. I’m pretty sure if everybody had to wake with their dad not knowing his name, not knowing his kid’s name, not being able to function at a normal rate after football, they would understand that the game needs to change. If it doesn’t there are going to be more players, more great players, being affected by the things that we know of and aren’t changing. That’s not right.”
Bruno, in her article, claims the same thing; “We want so badly to believe that these are isolated, tragic occurrences. But we know better. And it has to change. The game has to change or we can no longer support it in good conscience.”
Currently, the family of Junior Seau is in the process of deciding whether or not to donate his brain for research in football-related injuries.