Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year, had signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in his brain, ABC’s “Good Morning America” reported on Thursday.
CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma.
Seau played for the Chargers, the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots during a 20-year NFL career distinguished by 12 straight trips to the Pro Bowl. He was found dead at his Oceanside, Calif. home on May 2, killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 43.
Per the request of his family, his brain was sent to the National Institutes of Health for more advanced evaluation. The NIH confirmed the findings to The Associated Press on Thursday.
The NFL released the following statement on Thursday:
“We appreciate the Seau family’s cooperation with the National Institutes of Health. The finding underscores the recognized need for additional research to accelerate a fuller understanding of CTE. The NFL, both directly and in partnership with the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and other leading organizations, is committed to supporting a wide range of independent medical and scientific research that will both address CTE and promote the long-term health and safety of athletes at all levels. The NFL clubs have already committed a $30 million research grant to the NIH, and we look forward to making decisions soon with the NFL Players Association on the investment of $100 million for medical research that is committed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. We have work to do, and we’re doing it.”
Later Thursday, the NFL Players Association released its statement about the Seau research.
Junior Seau was a leader on and off the field and the player community continues to mourn his loss. The report today about Junior having chronic traumatic encephalopathy is tragic. We know that research and partnerships will be an important factor in improving player care and safety, which is why we set aside $100M of player funds for medical research during the term of this collective bargaining agreement.
We also know that accountability and credibility are equally important measures in the overall commitment to player safety. The only way we can improve the safety of players, restore the confidence of our fans and secure the future of our game is to insist on the same quality of medical care, informed consent and ethical standards that we expect for ourselves and for our family members. This is why the players have asked for things like independent sideline concussion experts, the certification and credentialing of all professional football medical staff and a fairer workers compensation system in professional football.
Given their keen interest in Health and Safety issues in football, we call on Congressman Cummings, Congressman Issa and the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to review this issue as well.
Our players deserve the best care, and we will fight to hold the NFL and the Clubs accountable for providing it.
– NFL Evolution and NFL.com