On the same day the NFL handed down their player suspensions in connection with the New Orleans Saints bounty program, the league lost one of its greatest modern day players. Former San Diego Chargers LB Junior Seau was found dead of apparent self inflicted gun shot wound to the chest.
Unfortunately, it’s not rare anymore to hear about retired players taking their own life. The damage to their brain takes such a toll they feel the need to end it all. In Seau and Dave Duerson’s cases, they wanted scientists to be able to study their brain and chose a suicide that would preserve it.
One of the main reasons the league has come down so hard on illegal hits and now the Saints bounty program is player safety and the huge pending concussion lawsuits.
“It’s sad that it was written into an incentive package to go into a game that we all love and turn it into that,” he said. “There is going to be a cloud over our game because of that. So there is a lot of pressure, obviously, on (NFL Commissioner Roger) Goodell and those in the NFL office to do something drastic, big, to send a message out there.
“This is a sport in which you inflict pain on your opponents, but it is not in the game to hurt them and have a bounty over a player. Then you have pushed it too far because you should never place a bounty on another human being.”
This terrible news is another reminder of just how important it is to get the player safety issue right. Not just with personal fouls and the New Orleans scandal but with continued care of retired players as they try to deal with these mental and physical problems from years of playing in the NFL.
Prayers go out to the Seau family at this difficult time.
If you or anyone you know is dealing with thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK.