Thursday, May 3, 2012

Seau It Ain't So

Yesterday's tragic news about the death of Junior Seau was sobering, yet again.  It seems that Junior committed suicide and the autopsy should be conclusive. Allegedly, he tried to commit suicide a year or two ago by driving his car off a cliff, but he says he wasn't. He stated he fell asleep at the wheel. With all the "Monday morning quarterbacking" (pun intended), what culpability does the NFL and the NFL Player's Association have? This is the 3rd suicide in the last year of NFL players.  Is it a coincidence?  If you took the population of another career, would the stats be the same?  I think not.  Football players are glorified, coddled, celebrated, idolized, concussed (or to keep the rhythm concussified) and then it's over.  What are they supposed to do in their retirement which could begin as early as 30?  If it is assumed that Junior Seau was lying and he was really trying to kill himself by driving off the road, where was the Player's Association?  Where was Roger Goodell and the NFL?  Shouldn't someone have reached out to him?  Shouldn't they be pro-active and offer support groups, therapy, medical treatment?  

Football on every level has gotten more violent and dangerous.  It's not just the NFL. It's College. It's High School. It's Middle School. It's Peewee. The intensive practices in the oppressive heat has caused deaths. The repeated hits on the head are finally suspected to cause brain damage. There are class action suits against the NFL from former players, but why isn't the NFL ahead of this?  It's not something that happened overnight. Junior Seau played for 20 years and never had a concussion on the books.  Is that because he was incredibly lucky, didn't report that his bell had been rung, or the team doctors hedged the findings? The rules are changing but ever so slowly. The penalties are getting greater, but mostly in the heat of the game, not in the long run.  There should be zero tolerance on head hits. Automatic suspension and heavy fines. The NFL is going out of its way to make a very strong example with the New Orleans Saints, but really?  Do they think this isn't a prevalent practice?  Do they think that taking the other guy out isn't common at every level?  Maybe the Saints just weren't careful and got caught. 

Junior Seau didn't leave a suicide note. He shot himself in the chest which is almost unheard of except Dave Duerson, the first of the three suicides, shot himself in the chest, too. He left a suicide note. His note said he shot himself in the chest so that doctors could study the damage to his brain.  Wonder what happened to that research?  Is the NFL sitting on the results?  Did no one do the study?  I have no idea.  I am actually out of my fact base here.  I know that the NFL has problems. They have had problems for a long time and seemingly ignore the quality of life and life and death issues of the injured/retired players. The game is definitely becoming more and more Gladiator like. Blood lust and hard hits are driving the sport and the ratings.  Something has to be done, but not sure that without litigation the NFL will step to the forefront. I am deeply sorry for Junior Seau's family.  Anyone who had to see his mother's raw anguish over losing her son must be moved.  Let's hope the NFL doesn't let him die in vain. Come on, Roger, do the right thing!

Shockingly, no sidebars today.

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