Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Oct 2012

Junior Seau: Song of Sorrow

A chilling and in-depth profile of Junior Seau and his last days.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 15 Oct 2012

17 comments, Last at 18 Oct 2012, 3:52pm by Noah Arkadia


by Bill (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:49pm

Sirs -

As hectic as our lives can be, would you mind re-posting and re-linking next week when they publish the second half?

Thank you for pointing us to this.


by IAmJoe :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:21pm

^ This

:-( Take care out there, Junior

by duh :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 4:09pm

That is a troubling article. Thank you for posting the link.

by RichardD (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 4:35pm

Makes me want to start watching chess instead of NFL football. How do you incorporate the Ruy Lopez opening into DVOA?

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 7:35pm

Really? You probably don't know all the juicy chess master stories. Maybe you've heard about Bobby Fisher, but how about Viktor Korchnoi and that psychic he claimed Karpov hired to interfere with his mind waves in the world championship? But that's not all. During the same match, "Karpov's chair was removed, taken to a nearby hospital, dismantled, and X-Rayed piece by piece in search of transmitters, among things".

Alekhine ended up in a mental hospital and Torre enjoyed getting his clothes off in public. Nimzovitch apparently liked to go to a corner to stand on his head during matches. It goes on and on.

Chess is seriously violent, in a way, and maybe just as damaging as football, at a high level.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by RickD :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:57pm

Gonna disagree.

Crazy people play chess. That doesn't mean that chess drives people crazy.

There's no chess equivalent to the damage of repeated concussions.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 12:17am

You should try playing chess at my house.

by Travis :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 8:41am
by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 8:54pm

I'm at a loss for words...

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 8:52pm

How come it's the best players that are crazier, then? I'm sure you know a lot of people who play chess who aren't crazy. You'd have to argue that being crazy is an advantage in the most difficult mental game known to man! No, chess places an enormous amount of stress on the brain, day after day, for years and years on end. And "luckily", players can continue to play into old age!

I suppose I'd still pick chess over football, though. But I'd much rather not do either at a high level.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by tuluse :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 2:12pm

I think it's possible that being crazy in some specific ways could lead to being a better chess player. A lot of the best mathematicians seem to have been a bit off (or more than a bit).

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 3:52pm

I was just thinking about mathematicians as well. I wonder why physicists, for example, seem normal by contrast.

Anyway, I'd argue there's a difference between eccentricity and actual mental disease. Eccentricity is fine. I'm sure mathematicians, physicists and chess players are more eccentric than the norm. But actual paranoia and stuff like that, no way it helps.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 5:04pm

I don't know how many more stories about CTE I can take and still be a football fan.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 7:23pm

You see oddly similar results from people who won the lotto or aged rock stars.

People tend not to react well to sudden lifestyles changes, in either direction.

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 8:09pm

True, but there's definitely something organic going on with many of the former players. Duerson, Mike Webster, and the former Eagles safety all had physical damage to their brains.

So far, there's no evidence that it was a factor with Seau, but that doesn't invalidate the other cases.

by tally :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:59pm

It's not necessarily that they do not react well; their lives seem to end up back where they started. It's regression to the mean in the worst possible way.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 8:25am

What comes across to me in the middle pages of that article is that success was everything to his parents and family. That his dad would give him the silent treatment when his high school team lost, that his dad refused to drive him to college when he missed the SAT score to be eligible to play his freshman year.

To me that's where it went wrong for Seau ... needing the external validation of family through trophies, money, wins ... rather than being loved for himself.

But it's not that different a story to millions of others.