Sep 16, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers fans as newly retired jersey of late Chargers linebacker Junior Seau is unveiled before a game against the Tennessee Titans at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
What was once thought to be a possible factor in the death of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau is now confirmed after extensive testing on his brain revealed he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) with the cause being repetitive head injuries. This could change the game of the NFL even more than has already occurred.
Seau, who had committed suicide by a gunshot to the chest on May 2, 2012, was said to have been experiencing depression, mood swings, insomnia, and in October 2010 drove his vehicle off a cliff following a domestic violence incident.
Following his suicide, Seau’s name was brought to the forefront of the legal battle that the NFL is currently involved in with former players who say to be suffering from similar circumstances.
When this battle was first brought to the attention of the public a few years ago, the attitude was that players knew what they were getting into and took their health into their own hands while leaving the NFL’s clean.
But after seeing instances where players have been encouraged if not told to return to the field after a concussion or a hard blow to the head, attitudes began to change and so did the rules.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell began to hammer home the motto of player safety and championed the changing of a macho culture within the game itself.
Players have surprisingly not been on board with Goodell including those that play defense. That’s most likely because they are being fined and their team penalized during the game for any hit that appears like it could be involving helmet to helmet contact.
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu has been one of many who have said Goodell has too much power and is turning the NFL in a “pansy game” with fines and flags being thrown each and every time.
Nonetheless, the recent findings of the degenerative brain disease that Seau apparently suffered will now only bring this debate to the top again and only strengthen the stance taken by the NFL in regards to protecting not only the players but itself.
Yes, expect things to become even more strict on not only penalties but more guidelines for teams when their player experiences any injury especially to the head area. While most of us may not watch the Ambien-like performance of the Pro Bowl, it’s what the NFL may eventually become.