Thirteen days before Junior Seau was found dead in California with an apparent gun shot wound to the chest there was another former NFL player who ended his own life. His name was obviously not as “powerful” as Seau’s however, Ray Easterling left in his wake just as much trouble and turmoil over the issue of head injuries.
In an article written by Mike Tierney of the New York Times it is tough to shrug off all that we have come to know over the past few years, just read about how Mary Ann Easterling, Ray’s widow, is handling and plans to go forward with her life and her husbands legacy;
For Mary Ann Easterling, the prudent and less painful options, it might seem, are to move away and move on.
Relocate from the home where she found the body of her husband, Ray, a handgun nearby, and the neighborhood where Ray, a former N.F.L. safety, would become disoriented on long-distance jogs, sometimes prompting one-woman search parties at 2 a.m.Withdraw his name from the class-action lawsuit that accuses the league of improperly caring for retired players with head injuries, a consequence that she contends turned Ray’s last two decades into a living, foggy hell.Instead, Mary Ann, 59, plans to go nowhere. She won’t leave the brick ranch house on Traylor Drive, furnished with enough fond memories to overpower the unpleasant ones. Nor the legal campaign seeking enhanced treatment and medical coverage for retired players.
“This is for the players’ wives who haven’t discovered the reason their husbands have changed and why their family life is so chaotic,” she said.
When you read the article you can’t help but feel as helpless as Mary Ann was during the last few fleeting years; the “downward spiral” had started to take effect. As Tierney ends the article you feel the sense of relief mixed with heavy sorrow for the loss of her husband;
On the morning of April 19, along with her husband’s lifeless body, Mary Ann discovered a note, written with his increasingly numb and quivering hands.
It was addressed to her, sprinkled with “I love yous” and containing evidence that his faith had not wavered. Quoting from the letter, she said, “I’m ready to meet my Lord and savior.”
She acknowledged a sense of relief, and not just for herself after 20 years of exhaustive caregiving, although she never considered handing it off.
In her mind’s eye, she can see Ray in heaven, suffering no more, his brain functioning normally.
For now, Mary Ann intends to keep intact the self-described man cave, a two-room basement where Ray maintained an office and stored mementos.
Hanging from the walls are photos, mostly black-and-white, of him lunging into a ball carrier, often headfirst. There are annual team portraits, a few Ray Easterling football cards, his framed No. 32 jersey, a lightly padded helmet that was standard in his day and game balls, one of them ominously inscribed with the words, “Paid the Price.”
One more remembrance sits outside, near the garage at the top of the driveway: stacks of logs, covered by a clear tarp, cut by Ray’s trembling hands.
He had assured his wife that there would be enough wood to warm their house through the next few winters.
I was passed along this note with the link to the article from a friend “This story may help crystallize the argument. People have stop being stuck on stupid.” Yes they do, we need to take a step back realize what we are seeing and make the necessary adjustments. Concussions and brain trauma/disease effect more than just the person being afflicted, it effects everyone they touch.