In the wake of former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau’s suicide, his family has announced that they will donate his brain for research into football-related head injuries.
Sadly, Seau isn’t the only former football player to take his own life after perhaps suffering multiple concussions during their careers - former Bears, Giants and Cardinals safety and two time Super Bowl champion Dave Duerson committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest in 2011 after sending his family a text in which he expressed his wishes that his brain be used for research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease thought to be associated with brain injuries. CTE can cause memory loss, aggression and depression - all conditions reported by many former professional athletes who played contact sports like football, among them Seau, Duerson and other marquee players like Jim McMahon and Harry Carson. Research has shown that symptoms of CTE may develop years or even decades after suffering an injury.
What can be done to protect football players’ brains in full-contact sports? Is the league doing enough to provide assistance to former players years after they’ve left the game?
Dr. David A. Hovda, director of the Brain Research Center at UCLA
Harry Carson, pro-football Hall of Famer, played 13 seasons in the NFL with the New York Giants