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Thursday, January 10, 2013
Junior Seau findings are important

By Bill Williamson

The sad story of Junior Seau took another turn.

ESPN is reporting that the San Diego Chargers' legendary linebacker -- who committed suicide last May -- suffered from the type of chronic brain damage that also has been found in dozens of deceased former players, according to a study conducted by five brain specialists consulted by the National Institutes of Health.

Seau’s family told ABC News and ESPN they were informed last week that Seau's brain had tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia, memory loss and depression.

The family consented to allow for Seau’s brain to be studied in the weeks after his shocking death. His former wife, Gina Seau, said the development is important for people to realize what Seau was suffering from and to help players in the future.

"I think it's important for everyone to know that Junior did indeed suffer from CTE," Gina Seau said. "It's important that we take steps to help these players. We certainly don't want to see anything like this happen again to any of our athletes."

An incredible story by U-T San Diego last fall described Seau’s final years in which he struggled with alcohol and gambling issues and problems with his family. Seau, who would have turned 44 next week, was clearly suffering.

Wednesday’s development will further spur more talk about the NFL and concussions and the risks players take. For a player of Seau’s stature to have been afflicted like this will ensure the story will not go away.

Seau is expected to be a first-ballot entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in two years. His story will continue to be told and it will continue to keep pressure on this subject. At least some good will come out of this heartbreaking story.