Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

10 Jan 2013

Doctors: Junior Seau's Brain Had CTE

No surprise here, but doctors examining Junior Seau's brain found that he had suffered from the same type of chronic brain damage that had affected many other deceased football players.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 10 Jan 2013

14 comments, Last at 13 Jan 2013, 3:59pm by LionInAZ


by QCIC (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2013 - 3:04pm

So running headfirst into hard objects at 10mph +/- thousands of times over a couple decades isn't good for your brain?

Who knew?

by apbadogs :: Thu, 01/10/2013 - 3:12pm

What's weird is guys like Seau, Ray Lewis, et al actually don't seem to be affected as much as you think they would be figuring they've had dozens and dozens of concussions but guys like Aikman, Hoge, et al are out of the league after only a handful.

by TimTheEnchanter (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2013 - 3:20pm

I would suspect there's a sort of natural selection going on and the guys who play 'high-collision-frequency' positions like linebacker who show acute symtoms get filtered out in the lower levels of the sport, whereas a QB can survive much longer by just being lucky enough not to take too many bad hits.

Unfortunately for these LBs and such, they are still seemingly accumulating the chronic damage that ultimately leads to CTE.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2013 - 4:26pm

Interesting speculation.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2013 - 3:27pm

You never really know how many concussions someone like Seau or Lewis or Aikman or Hoge has had. The only source of info is the player, and they are notoriously unreliable on the subject.

We're also talking about the brain injuries, which are still very much a black box in terms of cause and effect.

by apbadogs :: Thu, 01/10/2013 - 5:46pm

Hoge had 2 in 5 weeks that caused his retirement and having to learn to SPEAK again. Aikman had about 10 I've read. There is no way a middle linebacker like Lewis, Seau, Romanowski who are in HIGH SPEED COLLISIONS 20-30-40 times a game don't get concussed multiple times a year. Maybe it's like alcohol, you build up a tolerance and it takes more to show the effects?

by bernie (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2013 - 7:27pm

Well, I think they're starting to discover now that the concussions themselves don't necessarily need to be cause by massive decleating hits...just the little head knocks that are suffered multiple times every game are enough to accumulate over time.
I'm guessing that like other diseases, some people may be more suceptible than others to this kind of trauma, and combined with impact sports like football, they show effects that others may not.

by RoninX (not verified) :: Thu, 01/10/2013 - 7:54pm

Right, brain damage from what previously would have been diagnosed as concussions (or more frequently *not* diagnosed) are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to collision induced brain damage.

by Alex' (not verified) :: Fri, 01/11/2013 - 8:06pm

Kind of like boxers at the highest levels can take a lot more punches to the head without getting knocked. Some of it is just innate and some of it's having stronger neck or jaw muscles. Of course being able to take punches without getting knocked out probably isn't good for you in the long term.

by LionInAZ :: Sun, 01/13/2013 - 3:59pm

I'd say it was probably known quite some time ago, but it took decades for anyone who could do something about it to actually pay attention. Especially when there are entrenched interests who fear they'll lose money once the truth is known. This is something that we've seen time and again. After all, it took 80 years and 500,000 dead to end the evil called slavery in the US.

by Pwte Mack (not verified) :: Fri, 01/11/2013 - 12:37am

The horrifying thing about this is that is a progressive degeneration. These guys at retiring in apparently OK shape, but another 10-15 years down the road they are hurting bad enough to shoot themselves in the chest and donate their brains to science.
Bottom line: coaches, don't play your players injured. If Seau isn't evidence, consider RG3.

by ClemsonMatt (not verified) :: Fri, 01/11/2013 - 10:46am

It's all a conspiracy to ruin football by taking out the contact and turn it into flag football. The commish and doctors are all secretly plants by FIFA to get football replaced by football. Of course all the brains they check out have problems....the brains are checked out because the people had issues.

This has been your sarcastic troll of the day. The only serious part is (and researchers have mentioned it as well) that getting more brains from people not having problems would be beneficial to establish a better baseline.

My insane, alcoholic, perverted grand-son-in-law groping grandmother in-law donated hers, but there's no way hers was "normal".

by Will Allen :: Fri, 01/11/2013 - 1:27pm

So Thanksgiving was a lot of fun at your house, when you were growing up?

by Ryan D. :: Fri, 01/11/2013 - 7:50pm

I hope Dan Morgan has signed up to donate his brain upon his death, which is hopefully a long time from now. That guy was a walking concussion playing MLB for the Panthers in the early 2000's.