When it comes to the NFL a lot of people have been talking nonstop for a couple of years if not longer now. The talk has ranged from where the ratings are going to the safety of the players to the conduct overall of both players and the owners. But in terms of ESPN’s 30 for 30 one of the most tragic and notable cases for review is that of Junior Seau. As many of the older fans know he was one of the most passionate players to ever don a uniform and perform in front thousands upon thousands of fans on a constant basis. He was one of the most dominant players on the field and as a result was also one of the most loved among his hometown franchise, the Chargers. But things weren’t always quite as easy as it might have seemed for Seau.
He had a legion of fans, a team full of peers that looked up to him, and family that loved him dearly. And yet despite all that it wasn’t enough to keep the legendary player from committing suicide in 2012. This was a tragedy that no one saw coming since there were few signs that anyone recognized, there was no note, and there was no explanation as to why he’d done this, at least not until later following his autopsy. While the possibility of head trauma has been a concern in the NFL for a long time now, at one point the true worry over it finally came to light when CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, was determined to have been the cause of Seau’s continuing decline. Trista from Facty Health gives a good description of CTE and what it can do in the course of person’s life. One blow to the head isn’t typically enough to cause someone to experience the change in demeanor and attitude that Seau experienced, but many blows to the head over a period of time can in fact create a serious issue as the brain is essentially forced to connect with the inside of a person’s skull upon each impact, thereby jarring it and creating the kind of cumulative damage that can, throughout the years, lead to serious symptoms that are fairly easy to spot such as memory loss and sudden mood swings that come out of nowhere.
Seau’s passing wasn’t the only one that was related to CTE as according ESPN roughly 66 out of 86 cases that were brought to the NFL were settled, including Seau’s. The very persistent issue of CTE became a serious issue for the league and Seau’s case was one of the biggest as his family filed a wrongful death suit against the NFL that was finally taken care of. Unfortunately the issue still persists with some individuals, though now that it’s been given a great deal of consideration protocols have been implemented that are in place to protect the athletes from injury that will result in this kind of development. Seau, renowned as one of the greatest players in the game, didn’t begin to exhibit the most disturbing signs of CTE until his 40s, when things seemed to fall apart and his life was approaching a shambled ruin of what it had once been.
Many would agree that watching this man that had been one of the greatest players on the field slowly succumb to something they couldn’t understand was difficult and hard to understand. But damage to the brain is something that takes years sometimes to really notice, as the damage, if not immediately noticeable, does take time to build into a serious problem. The concussion protocols that exist now weren’t quite the same back in Seau’s day and many players were allowed to go on playing so long as they could get up and show that they were okay to go back on the field. These days matters are taken into hand by onsite medical professionals immediately when it appears that a player might have taken a severe blow to the head. While it’s regrettable that this practice wasn’t as stringent back in the day Seau and many others have been held up as an example as to what can happen if head injuries are left to build and build without being checked out when they happen.
To date Seau is more than a cautionary tale thankfully, he’s been lauded and remembered as one of the best that ever played the game and as a man that, before his decline, was considered a great person that was liked by just about everyone that met him. The reasons for watching this program are many, not the least of which is getting to remember who Junior Seau was, and what he did for the league. But another reason is obviously to realize just what can happen in a game where men put their bodies on the line for the entertainment of others.