Junior Seau’s Children Settle With NFL Over Former Star’s Suicide

Junior Seau has a stars and stripes sticker placed on his helmet.
Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

The family of the late Junior Seau has decided to settle its lawsuit against the National Football League over the 2012 suicide of the popular San Diego linebacker.

The settlement was made after the family opted out of the NFL concussion settlement that covers more than 20,000 retired players.

This particular plan pays up to $4 million to families of the players who, after their deaths, were found to have the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE. Sixty-six of the 86 CTE claims filed as of Oct. 1 have been awarded payments, according to the Associated Press.

CTE is commonly found in athletes, military individuals, and those with history of repetitive trauma. It occurs when a protein known as Tau forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain, killing neurons.

Symptoms of the condition usually emerge years after the onset of the head impacts. As the disease progresses, patients may experience thinking and memory problems, which include depression, paranoia, confusion, impaired judgement, and progressive dementia.

Several former NFL players who committed suicide were later found to have CTE. These include Dave Duerson, Adrian Robinson, and Aaron Hernandez. Seau’s family sued the NFL claiming that the football star’s suicide was linked to brain injuries that he suffered during his time in the league.

Linebacker Junior Seau gets set for play during the game against the Arizona Cardinals in September 2002.
  Donald Miralle / Getty Images

Seau had played 20 seasons in the league, 13 of which with the Chargers before retiring in 2009. In May 2012 he committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest in his beachfront home. He was 43 years old when he died.

Seau was posthumously elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015, three years after his death.

The San Diego Tribune reported that Seau’s family filed notice in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Friday to dismiss the case against the NFL.

“I’m glad that it’s resolved for them now so they can move on with their lives,” said lawyer Steven Strauss, who represented Seau’s four children and his estate in the federal suit. “It took a long time. That was frustrating, but it was successfully settled, and that’s good.”

Strauss declined to discuss the amount and terms of the settlement due to its confidential nature but said that his clients are pleased with the settlement.

Legal experts, however, said that based on Seau’s prominence as a player and the circumstances of his death, the league would likely pay more than $4 million to induce the dropping of the case.