Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Former NFL linebacker Junior Seau is dead, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
I learned this earlier today, when I went online at work just to check my e-mail one last time before coming home. I had a few Facebook updates, a blog comment to approve, and a 'breaking news' message from WGR. I figured the WGR thing would be something about the fact that the Bills had a workout with quarterback Vince Young today. Instead, I read that Junior Seau had been found dead.
Seau was a great, great player. He truly was. He came to prominence in the early to mid 1990s, and he played most of his career with the San Diego Chargers, including that teams one and only Super Bowl team in 1994 (which would lose, 49-26, to a juggernaut of a San Francisco 49ers team). I always liked Seau, and his physically athletic (or athletically physical) play. He was one of the good guys, having done a great deal of charity work in San Diego during his career there. I really didn't want to hate him in 2007, when he came out of retirement to try for the elusive championship ring with the Patriots, but a football fan has his priorities, so for one year, hate Seau I did. Although not really. You couldn't hate Junior Seau.
Why did he apparently kill himself? I honestly don't know, although speculation is sure leaning strongly toward side effects of concussions being a factor. Seau wouldn't be the first formerly concussed player to commit suicide. We do know more and more these days, though, about the effects of concussions -- particularly repeated concussions, on the brains of athletes, and the effects those concussions can have many years later, once the athletes have stopped playing.
I'm once again struck by the degree to which physical things affect our mental states, and I continue to wonder just to what degree we really have control over the things we think. Not everything is choice. I'm reminded of recent research that suggests a strong correlation between the decline of violent crime in America over the last few decades and the reduction of lead exposure over the same period. We don't always have the power to think what we will. And that can be a somewhat grim realization.