The family of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NFL, accusing the organization of "acts or omissions" that "hid the dangers of repetitive blows to the head." Seau died at age 43 of a self-inflicted gunshot last May. Posthumous tests have confirmed that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The condition is associated with repeated head trauma and can lead to dementia, memory loss, and depression. Seau was known as one of the best linebackers during his 20 seasons in the NFL. He retired in 2009.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Seau’s family said that he experienced mood swings, forgetfulness, insomnia and depression in the last few years of his life. Regarding the diagnosis of CTE, they issued this statement: “While Junior always expected to have aches and pains from his playing days, none of us ever fathomed that he would suffer a debilitating brain disease that would cause him to leave us too soon.”
The lawsuit accuses the NFL of glorifying violence in football, creating the impression that delivering the punishing hits against other players is a badge of honor and is not a serious threat to one’s health. The family cites league videos and films to back up that point. Ironically, one of the films cited is a clip of Seau in 1993's 'NFL Rocks' talking about delivering those punishing hits, “If I can feel some dizziness, I know that guy is feeling double (that).”
In November, an Associated Press review found that more than 3,800 players have sued the NFL over head injuries in at least 175 cases. More than 100 of the concussion lawsuits have been brought together before a U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. Our firm wrote a comprehensive report, detailing the NFL’s response in NFL Tackling Issue of Traumatic Brain Injury and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.