Seau family revisiting brain decision

Updated: May 6, 2012, 5:00 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The family of Junior Seau is reconsidering its decision to allow researchers to study his brain for signs of damage caused by concussions suffered during his 20-year NFL career, Chargers team chaplain Shawn Mitchell said Sunday.

Mitchell said Sunday that the family, which is of Samoan descent, is consulting with a group of elders on a number of matters.

He says it doesn't necessarily mean that the family won't donate Seau's brain for research.

"They really want to do everything right," Mitchell says.

Mitchell previously told Reuters on Saturday of the family's thinking.

Garrett Webster, the administrator and player liaison for the Brain Injury Research Institute, which studies the impact of concussions, said his group has requested the family donate the brain but hasn't heard back.

Bennet Omalu, co-founder of the Brain Injury Research Institute and a forensic pathologist who first identified chronic brain damage as a factor in the deaths of some NFL players, flew to San Diego on Thursday to participate in the autopsy of Seau, two sources with knowledge of the case told ESPN's Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru.

Omalu assisted in the autopsy conducted by the San Diego County medical examiner because of his experience with NFL players and brain injuries, the sources said.

Another research institute, Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, has analyzed the brains of dozens of former athletes, including that of Dave Duerson.

While saying they were saddened by Seau's death, center officials would not say if they have reached out to the Seau family or would be interested in studying his brain.

Mitchell, when asked if Seau's family still planned to allow researchers to examine the brain, told Reuters: "I don't want to give the impression they're not going to anymore. ... We thought everything was kind of nailed, and now it's in flux."

Mitchell said the family is discussing the next step.

"They just want to slow down, be sure they're doing it right," Mitchell told Reuters. "With the incredible, incredible anguish and grief and pressure of this situation, they've been in a fog. Now, they're getting counsel."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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