Thursday, May 3, 2012

Did Seau sacrifice his life so his brain would be autopsied?

I've followed the issue of TBIs and NFL player health issues from a distance -- enough to know I'll gently steer my son towards baseball, basketball, soccer, swimming, track, etc. when the time comes, pretty much anything but football -- but haven't been monitoring the stories about the various players who are suffering depression and other conditions close enough to be able to rattle their names off. However, when I heard yesterday that Seau was dead and it was being considered a suicide by gunshot to the chest, I thought, "That's odd, it seems like it would be harder, logistically speaking, to accurately shoot yourself in the chest than it would be to put the barrel of the firearm in your mouth and make sure you were going to kill yourself quickly, not just grievously injure yourself and possibly bleed to death slowly or drown in your blood." I wondered if that wasn't grounds for suspicion that there might be foul play, or if he had specific reason not to shoot himself in the head, then I heard on the radio that another NFL player had committed suicide the same way, specifically so his brain wouldn't be splattered around and could be studied.

Seau via NESN and another's Instant Opinion
It's sad to consider that Seau may have been suffering from depression, knew he needed help, but had decided the best course of action for him would be to kill himself in a way that left his brain in a state where it could be autopsied to see if multiple concussions were the root cause of whatever he felt was wrong with him.

I mean, these athletes get MRIs at the drop of a hat when they're playing, right? I think it can even happen during the same game in which they sustained an injury to determine if they have a fracture or ligament damage. So why aren't they receiving top flight medical care after their playing days are over? Are they really so disposable? What kind of insurance do they get through the league or the player's union?

The truly frightening prospect would be if the NFL knew there was link between the repeated blows to the head and subsequent health outcomes,  had done a cost-benefit analysis, and decided it was in their interest to leave the players to work it out on their own later. I hope Mr. Goodell and the league have the best interests of their players at heart, and that we won't see any other players dying to make a point, if that is indeed what is happening.

I started writing before researching, always a risky proposition, but part of what I do here is rattle off an impression then circle around to see if it bears scrutiny. (Hence, blogger, not journalist. Caveat emptor, right?) So the first article I turned to happened to be this one, and it seems at least some reporters have the same concerns and questions I do.

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