The family of Junior Seau has agreed to let researchers study his brain to determine if he suffered extensive damage from concussions received during his 20-year NFL career.
The announcement comes just one day after a San Diego County medical examiner officially ruled Seau’s death to be caused by a self inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.
Chargers team chaplain Shawn Mitchell tells the Times:
“The family was considering this almost from the beginning, but they didn’t want to make any emotional decisions. And when they came to a joint decision that absolutely this was the best thing, it was a natural occurrence for the Seau family to go forward.”
According to Mitchell the family is hoping that such a study will help stop other similar NFL player tragedies in the future.
During his 20 year career Junior Seau spent 13 seasons with the Chargers before moving on to play with the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots. As an all-star of the game he was voted to a Chargers-record of 12 straight Pro Bowl teams and was named All-Pro six times. Seau also helped lead San Diego to its only Super Bowl win in 1994.
In the meantime pathologist, Bennet Omalu, assisted in the autopsy, he is the same doctor who first recognized the potential for brain damage and suicide in NFL players. Omalu was flown out to assist the San Diego County medical examiner because of his experience with NFL players and brain injuries.
Omalu was brought in to look for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a neurological disorder caused to the brain when repeated head trauma is experienced. CTE is believed to be the cause of dementia and alzheimer’s often found in aging NFL players.
Results from Junior Seau’s brain examination into CTE related injury will not be revealed for four to six week and it is still not clear who will study the brain which currently still resides with the San Diego medical examiner and which will not be buried with the former NFL players body.