VIDEO: Junior Seau’s death shines light on football’s enduring injuries

The Takeaway

Junior Seau, a former all-pro NFL linebacker for the San Diego Chargers, was found dead at his home in Oceanside, Calif.

The 43-year-old died from what is believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. An autopsy is pending. Seau led his teams to the Super Bowl twice, once in 1994 with the Chargers and again in 2007 at the end of his career when he played for the New England Patriots. He also had a stint with the Miami Dolphins.

Seau is the eighth member of the ’94 Chargers team to die — and it’s raised more uncomfortable questions about the toll football inflicts on athlete’s bodies.

Takeaway sports contributor Ibrahim Abdul Matin said there’s an ongoing discussion about the injuries the plague football players. A group of former players are fighting for better healthcare, for example.

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“The issue of chronic, traumatic encephalopathy, which is a form of dementia, is increasingly common in former NFL players,” Matin said. “It’s what they found after examining Dave Duerson’s brain after he killed himself.”

Matin said people are beginning to discuss whether the sport is worth the costs it inflicts, in the long-run.

If Seau took his own life, there’s no information yet available to conclusively link the two, but circumstances already have many people asking questions.

“When we look back, the other people that get (CTE) a lot are boxers,” Matin said. “A lot of people around the country would never let their child go into boxing, but they’ll definitely let their child go into football.”

Matin said the most important step to be taken right now, in the wake of Seau’s death as well as the ongoing scandal over the New Orleans Saints’ program to pay bounties to players for particularly vicious and injurious hits, is to get their brains scanned immediately.

The average age of onset of CTE is 43 — Seau’s exact age.

“I think everyone who’s played football should definitely get their brain checked out,” Matin said.

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