RIP #55… Everyone Hold your Horses #C4CT

With the tragic news of the death, at his own hands, of Junior Seau along with the peculiarly similar initial circumstances of Dave Duerson everyone needs to step back.  Yes, the very first thought that crossed my mind was Dave Duerson upon hearing the reports, mainly by Twitter.  However, what we must collectively do now is allow the process to unfold.

Not unlike sustaining a concussion the news is just the beginning.  When someone sustains a concussion often there are instant leaps to conclusions about time missed, long-term effects, and safety.  With a concussion it is a process, after time is allowed to properly asses the situation, create a plan and implement it there is nothing more to note other than it is a concussion.

And just like concussions people act in different ways, there is no rhyme or reason for many of these tragic situations, often it is because one has not had the proper education and levity of the situation.

I would just like to caution EVERYONE, let the process begin without jumping to conclusions.  In due time we will find out all the necessary information.  I for one hope against all hope that this has nothing to do with his brain health.

Thank You. #C4CT

21 thoughts on “RIP #55… Everyone Hold your Horses #C4CT

  1. A Concerned Mom May 2, 2012 / 18:42

    “Neurosurgeon Julian Bailes, longtime researcher into brain damage from concussions, responded to today’s death of former star NFL linebacker Junior Seau with grief – and medical questions about what toll Seau’s lengthy football career might have taken.”

    “”The emerging research is perhaps pointing to the amount of exposure to repetitive head contacts being like a dose response. … The more you’re exposed to sun light; you get a higher chance of skin cancer. … The more CAT Scans you have; you are exposed to radiation and perhaps side effects.””

  2. Michael Hopper May 2, 2012 / 20:23

    I wonder if the family will donate his brain to research. It appears that the fatal blow was not to the head so the brain should still be intact…

  3. A Concerned Mom May 2, 2012 / 21:13

    “He grew up hard in Oceanside, fighting for food and sometimes sleeping on mattresses in the garage. It’s one reason he focused on young people and struggling families when he established his foundation in the early 1990s. For instance, each Thanksgiving he would shut down the Mission Valley restaurant bearing his name and feed families affected by domestic violence and military personnel away from home. During Christmas, the foundation partners with a local store to allow underprivileged kids an opportunity to “purchase” gifts for family members. In total the Junior Seau Foundation, which also helps young people attend college, has distributed nearly $4 million since its inception.”

  4. Lynne Perkins May 2, 2012 / 21:20

    Dustin Fink, I am chilled by this post about the tragic death of Junior Seanu asking that we hold our horses. For me this man’s death, no matter how it may resemble that of any other athlete’s, stands alone to be understood and grieved. If by what you wrote you are suggesting that this man’s suicide could possibly ever be shown, without a doubt, to have nothing to do with his history of multiple brain injuries, that is simply not possible. You suggest that we wait until the experts decide if he was really concussed or not. Only a specialized autopsy would prove CTE. But the presence of CTE is not the only measure of the mental suffering of people with brain injuries that might lead to suicide. Still very few retired athletes undergo neuropsychological testing, and apparently this man did not and now it is too late. So how can there ever be a fair judging of whether he did or did not have cognitive and other deficits connected to brain injury that lead to his death? If you are suggesting that this man’s multiple concussions and serious brain shaking, that could not possibly have been avoided during his 100 foot plummet in a vehicle less than two years ago, may be understood to have had no connection to his suicide that is something I would expect from the physicians covering for the NFL. To suggest that there are some other dominating factors that lead this man to take his precious life at such a young age is disturbing. My mind has zoomed into multiple potential understandings of what other factors anyone might try to connect to his suicide. Let’s be hopeful that this man’s death is not in vain, but that it contributes to the growing wisdom about brain injuries that simply cannot be avoided any longer. The media needs to be cautious. But people need to process this and grieve too and repressing thoughts and comments will not assist that. Let the horses free.

    • Dustin Fink May 3, 2012 / 06:58

      I get your point… However with any suicide there always questions… Yes it would be very easy to jump to conclusion here, but what if a person who took their own life actually had depression, prior to playing football? What if?

      My only hope was that people like you and others wouldn’t jump to conclusions so fast, let the process begin. I am fearful for the sport of football and for other former players. If it found that CTE could be implicated it could lead to many terrible things the most concerning being “copycat” actions by former players, who should be seeking help.

      Thanks for your input, let the process unfold.

  5. A Concerned Mom May 2, 2012 / 22:09–nfl.html

    “”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.””

  6. Lynne Perkins May 2, 2012 / 22:45

    I appreciate you posting both articles Concerned Mom. The first one also comments on one of the worst outcomes which was for Mike Webster. Perhaps it is too disturbing for this blog or I would post the URL for the GQ article in which Dr. Omalu, clinic professor of pathology at UC-Davis, describes his shock and frustration when NFL physicians made light of the clear evidence of CTE he found in Mike Webster. My concern is not about the NFL or what it will have to confront if the injuries have to be helped. Like the tobacco industry the NFL will thrive no matter. My concern is for anyone and everyone who has had a brain injury. And of course the last question in this recent article is whether or not the deceased athletes’ families have to be compensated. Seems to me that worse than receiving no compensation for their loss might be questions about a loved one’s character. Not too long ago, a suicide of this kind would never be connected to history of brain injury. And so there are the questions. Was it is early poverty, ethnicity, marital problems, personality….and that in light of unanswerable questions and lacking the potential for proof one way or another that brain injury was the direct cause of a suicide death, might be harder to take than no compensation.

    • A Concerned Mom May 3, 2012 / 06:06

      In all fairness to Dustin, I think he has posted about 55 articles concerning CTE at this blog. With this being such a high profile case, if it turns out that Seau did not have CTE, even if other structural damage is found in his brain, who knows how the media will spin it.

      Overall, our society seems to have a hard time understanding brain injuries, degenerative diseases, depression, and mental illness (perhaps partly because there is still so much we don’t know yet). One of things I like most about this blog is the variety of opinions and information shared in the comments, and I hope you continue to comment here.

      Perhaps we’ll get another post today which will clarify Dustin’s thoughts on this issue. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him sensor anyone’s opinion or comment.

      Based on personal experience, my primary concern is with youth players who have no idea what the repetitive impacts sustained during practice and play may be doing to their brains. To me, it seems like it’s in the best interest of children to limit concussive and subconcussive injuries. I feel an injustice is currently being done to these youth players and their parents, because they haven’t been fully informed of the risks they are taking (we don’t know everything about what risks they are taking, but enough is known to warn them that there are potential long term risks, especially for those with certain genetic predispositions).

      After watching the video of Seau’s mother, if she goes forward with a lawsuit against the NFL, I don’t think it will be for money …

  7. A Concerned Mom May 3, 2012 / 06:33

    I would say that everything about youth football needs to change.

    “Everything about football on the professional level has to change. Practice regimens, equipment, technique, training, player awareness – all must be altered to reflect our growing understanding of the neurological results of participation.

    If I had a son who wanted to play football, I’d suggest he take up something less dangerous. Like drugs.

    After all, there is more scientific evidence for the damage caused by football than there is for steroids or marijuana.”

  8. Lynne Perkins May 3, 2012 / 22:27

    Concerned Mom I am replying to your post. I have been reading this blog for a while and have posted a few comments recently. This seems to be a blog of people with more knowledge, sophistication and personal experience with concussion than the average population. I commend Dustin for the expert level of his postings and the ongoing information and controversy he provides. I don’t think what I said was unfair to Dustin Fink, he would need to tell me if he felt it so. This is not just about CTE which he has posted articles about in the past. My comment was for fairness to the memory of Junior Seau since his history of concussions is a matter of record. I wrote my opinion because Dustin seemed to be suggesting something I find very troubling and all too pervasive. That is the idea that there might now be some other explanation, unrelated to this man’s multiple brain injuries, to explain why he tragically took his life. That can never be proven even if there is not a positive find for CTE. So to even speculate here seemed to me puzzling and not really fair to a remarkable man the world just lost. These questions are rampant in the general population of those who have had concussions. If a student begins drinking or taking drugs or attempts suicide, how often are the concussions even considered to be connected? Not often enough. Because of Dustin’s excellent blog and position in school athletics, he is in a position of leadership and his opinion carries weight. Dustin I certainly did not mean to offend you.

    • A Concerned Mom May 4, 2012 / 08:06

      My take on Seau’s death is that even if he was predisposed to depression or other personal struggles, hitting his head for 20 plus years and suffering a number of concussions certainly didn’t help the situation. I’m concerned that if they don’t find evidence of CTE upon examination, the headlines may imply that his suicide was unrelated to his years of playing football, and as you noted, I’m not sure if that can be proven. (I don’t necessarily want football to be blamed, but think his death should be viewed as one of many red flags indicating that the safety of football needs to be examined from the youth level up, and that action needs to be taken sooner rather than later.)

      Sometimes, it seems as though details can get lost when information is presented. For instance:

      “Brain autopsies of 4 former football players reveal not all get chronic traumatic encephalopathy”

      Sound promising, until you read that:

      “Peter Ribbins, a former Winnipeg Blue Bomber, passed away in December 2010, at age 63 of Parkinson’s disease. Autopsy results show he did not have signs of CTE. Tony Proudfoot, an all-star defensive back for the Montreal Alouettes, died at age 61 in 2011 of Lou Gehrig’s disease (a neurodegenerative condition also known as ALS). Although a connection between ALS and repeated head trauma is being researched, Proudfoot did not have signs of CTE.”

      Now, it’s true that not all of the football players had CTE, but it seems concerning that they all had some form of degenerative disease. The article is accurate, my only concern would be for those who don’t get past the first paragraph or title.

      I don’t have a medical background and that limits my understanding on this issue. However, I do feel as though it is necessary to keep pointing out that what’s being done now isn’t fair to parents or youth players. In many cases, they aren’t being provided with the information they need to make informed decisions, and parents are unknowingly entrusting their children to uninformed coaches. I believe that based on the information that’s currently available, the youth tackle football programs which aren’t being run in accordance with basic safety standards should be shut down today, not years from today. I say this as a mother who has to live with the guilt of not recognizing the danger her son was placed in by participating in a poorly run bantam program.

  9. Lynne Perkins May 3, 2012 / 23:15

    Dustin, I didn’t see your reply yesterday when I replied to Concerned Mom. I appreciate that you can get my point. The only conclusion I have jumped to is that since there can never be anything definitive, shy of positive CTE, a tumor or hematoma of the brain, speculation that his death is unrelated to brain injury can go nowhere but damage this man’s reputation. I do wonder who you think “people like me” are. I am a person who has mostly, but not totally recovered from five concussions, and who lost a professional career in healthcare, that had spanned 26 years, as a result of the last one. Like you I am graduate educated in the health sciences, M.Sc. Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Institute of Human Nutrition, Nutrition Science and Biochemistry;. M.A. NYU School of Education, Health Education. I fear for the football players and their families and the implications of all that happens for regular folk. . What would it take to have each and every one of the retired players fully assessed and enter a follow up program now to prevent future tragedies? Why not have all of these retired football players, who are willing, have Functional MRIs, QEEGs and a full battery of neuropsych testing with a psych evaluation.. That would be the process I would like to see unfold. .

    • Dustin Fink May 4, 2012 / 08:01


      “people like you” are people that want to jump the gun, clearly you are not, rather you are stating you opinion… As for all the research and fMRI that is something that up until now scared the players and the league. To me it was a matter of finding positive results and then “shutting down” the empire…

      Again I appreciate and welcome all comments, that is why I produce the blog… BTW I learn a ton from those that disagree…

  10. Lynne Perkins May 4, 2012 / 14:30

    Dustin, We agree more than disagree. I do not trust the process that is to unfold. I have no reason to trust the NFL to do what I would consider the “right” thing.

    The earnings and profits of the NFL are equal to the GNP of some small nations. With revenue of $7.6 Billion in 2008 and a financial plan to triple that by 2027,,

    “The owners are asking the players to take a $1 billion cut. “owners currently get the first $1 billion in NFL profits before anything goes to the players, and now they’re asking for the first $2 billion.”

    A 100% increase in profit, no promise to take care of the men who make it possible.

    I trust in science, that remedies will be found and that there are enough now that the problem is more lack of early detection due to denial than lack of treatment. I do understand that current players would be afraid to get a fMRI, but retired players would benefit and it could be done with no public exposure of results.

    Also, Junior Seau had a rather significant car accident in 10/11, it seems inconceivable that his brain was not injured in a 100 foot drop accelerated by the 5800lb weight of his vehicle. that involved tumbling impacts down a cliff. Was he even assessed for a brain injury right after that accident? I can’t find anything to suggest he was.

    The admiration young people have for Junior Seau, and others who have passed tragically before him, should not in my mind be sullied as the NFL attempts to avoid responsibility and pretend concussion isn’t their problem.

    Thank you for your feedback and for being so outspoken about concussions.

    • Dustin Fink May 4, 2012 / 15:36

      Thanks Lynne,

      And those doing the work on the brain of Seau, regardless if it is BIRI or CSTE both do tremendous work and will brig as much as possible into the light…

      • Lynne Perkins May 4, 2012 / 16:09

        Dustin, That is reassuring. Progress is being made however painful, the lid is off and the light of day will ultimately reign. I know that your blog will thoroughly explore those results.

  11. A Concerned Mom May 6, 2012 / 09:19

    Something to think about –

    “What you’ll sometimes see is several suicides or suicide attempts within a small group of people. So maybe it’s a military unit or maybe it’s a school system, something like that. And when these clusters occur, what usually seems to be the case is that there are common risk factors, so it’s not that one suicide is necessarily triggering another, but that all of them are existing within the same system, and the system is affecting all members in some way that is increasing their risk for suicide.

    And so what we do then is, yes, you work with the – whoever’s sort of in charge of that system or who has a positive impact on the entire system to identify those factors to correct them and to take steps to use the system to sort of strengthen everybody and make them healthier, make them more resistant to suicide. And one of the most interesting factors that we think is – that I have found particularly important is people’s ability to solve problems.”

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