Junior Seau death raises questions

Updated: May 3, 2012, 9:35 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Although Junior Seau was never listed on an NFL injury report as having had a concussion, those close to him say he admitted to having experienced multiple head injuries.

Seau died of a gunshot wound to the chest Wednesday, and his death was ruled a suicide by the San Diego County medical examiner's office on Thursday. No conclusive medical connection has been made between head injuries and suicide, but Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy has asked to study Seau's brain, Sports Illustrated reported on Thursday.

The center studied the brain of former NFL player Dave Duerson, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest last year and asked that his brain be studied. BU concluded that Duerson suffered from degenerative disease of the brain from repeated head trauma, which can lead to depression.

When reached by ESPN.com, Gina Digravio, manager of media relations at Boston University Medical Center, said the center never discusses what brains it is studying or what brains it is interested in studying.

Sports Illustrated clarified later Thursday that BU did not say that it had asked to study Seau's brain, specifically, but that the center attempts to examine the brains of all athletes who have died after taking part in contact sports.

Gina Seau said her ex-husband did suffer concussions during his nearly 20-year NFL career.

"Of course he had. He always bounced back and kept on playing," she said in a phone interview. "He's a warrior. That didn't stop him. I don't know what football player hasn't. It's not ballet. It's part of the game."

Gina Seau said she didn't know if the effects of concussions contributed to Seau's death.

"We have no clues whatsoever. We're as stunned and shocked as anyone else. We're horribly saddened. We miss him and we'll always love him," she said.

Taylor Twellman, a soccer analyst for ESPN and former Major League Soccer star, was a neighbor of Seau's in Oceanside, Calif. He said Thursday in an interview with ESPN's "SportsCenter" that he told Seau one time that he had suffered a concussion playing soccer and was experiencing bad headaches. Twellman said Seau admitted he also suffered from headaches from multiple concussions playing football.

Twellman, who has become an advocate for athletes with brain trauma, said he later tried to reach out to Seau to tell him he should seek help, but Seau never responded.

Police say they did not find a suicide note at the scene of Seau's death, and it is not clear if he indicated that he wanted his brain to be studied.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.