By Dr. Bill Chachkes-Executive Editor/Managing Partner-Football Reporters Online
It’s with a heavy heart that I write about Mr. Seau’s passing. Sadly this is another senseless death that could have been prevented, I believe with intervention. It’s more then the fact that this was caused by his own hand, but most probably by the constant stress of collision 50+ times per game for 20 seasons that lead to a traumatic conditon. Everyone knows my stance on this by now. True, Players know what the sport is all about, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have lifetime medical benefits and access to counseling to help with post career depression and post-traumatic head and spinal injuries.
Junior was by all accounts, the guy with the eternal smile, the kind word for everyone, the “Hey Buddy” greeting (esp. if he liked you!). He was the man involved in so many charitable events, which is how I first met him in 2000 when i was still an active coach, both in football & in Special Olympics.
Although we now have reports that he could have been suffering from depression for some time, but everyone you talk to or see an article published about since the middle of the week say the same thing
”we didn’t know anything was wrong.” It seems that whatever triggered his depression and or dementia issues, no one knew it was so prevalent in his make up or current behavior. To me it seems that Seau did a great job of “hiding” whatever was eating him away inside.
We’re talking about a man who spent twenty seasons, twenty years of his life, only missing two years around that twenty to injuries, a 5th overall first round draft choice in the 1990 draft, a man who kept the Chargers franchise from being inept, mediocre, infact what would have been a terrible team without him.
Condolences continue to pour in from everywhere, anyone who ever knew him even briefly. Regardless of that, we still have to cope with a loss of someone who signified all that was good about professional football players who gave back to their communities. Seau had given so much of himself working for the benefit of others. Now we need to continue to take up the rally cry for better research into the relation of post concussion syndrome, traumatic head and spinal Injuries, and depression in retired NFL Players.
Indeed it’s time for the powers that be to “step up” and continue to innovate in order to increase protection of these players from fatal life ending injuries. We should try as a society to make sure that this is the last time we have to hear about a retired player who takes his own life, or has extreme health issues that did not get addressed. The “League” is trying, and so are the various retired players groups… it’s time for the 400 pound “Player” in the room to admit it needs to do a better job of protecting it’s current players so that they can lead productive lives as former players.