I remember the anguish that punctured my thoughts when Junior Seau, a star in his own right on the gridiron, placed a handgun to his chest and took his own life eight months ago at his California home. Sitting in my room, I sunk into my chair and spoke no words for more than an hour while giving all I could to refrain from shedding any tears. His death struck me in an unforgettable way that positioned myself, once again, at a crossroads with football and its place in our culture infatuated with the image of the modern-day gladiator.
On May 3, 2012, the day after Seau’s suicide, I scrambled for answers with the shadows of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) looking over my back. I ran a number of searches in Google’s archives for newspaper articles from the 1990s to find some sort of explanation for his actions, but rarely was Seau’s name mentioned directly in relation to a head injury. Although my efforts were rather premature and assuming, there had to be some sort of correlation between Seau’s noted altercations behind closed doors with the thousands of hits his brain endured over the course of a 19-year professional career.
There are, of course, many different storylines that people turn to to explain something so tragic immediately after its occurrence, but confirmation of my original hypothesis (shared by many, I’m sure) by the National Institute of Health several days ago left me in an inexplicable state of unsettled anxiety. Though I inferred Seau would be diagnosed postmortem with CTE, my response to the official announcement was still along the lines of, “Unbelievable.” Continue reading
With all the illogical conclusions that are happening in the press there are some small positives already. The biggest of which, less than 24 hours after the untimely death of a great individual is the former players speaking out about depression and post-career condition. No longer has it become taboo to talk of depression.
Now players need to take stock of their physical and mental health, some players are such as Emmitt Smith;
“Depression & suicide are serious matters and we as current and former NFL players should demand better treatment. Lack of info … no more!!!,” former Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith said on his Twitter account.
“And for you current players who think this issue doesn’t effect u. Get your head out of your but. Where u r 2day was his (Seau’s) yesterday.”
In the same article James Johnston Jr., had this comment on former NFL’ers; Continue reading
Outside the Lines on ESPN interviewed Dr. Robert Cantu after he made public his stance on the issue of youth sports. I have embedded the video from ESPN via YouTube.
I would like to highlight not only Dr. Cantu’s take but also a VERY GOOD journalist that has covered concussions, Peter Keeting at the back end of the video.
In the accompanying story by Ian O’Connor of ESPNNewYork, Harry Carson believes that the state of football and its aftermath may be similar to playing Russian Roulette;
Carson played through all of his undiagnosed concussions, if only because that’s what NFL players did in the ’80s. He knew something was wrong when he struggled with his vocabulary during interviews, a problem that inspired him to secretly listen to language tapes on his drives home from practice in the hope, he said, “of retraining my brain.”
Carson was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome Continue reading