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Junior Seau RIP
May 2, 2012 12:32 PM   Subscribe

NFL great Junior Seau, who spent the majority of his career with the San Diego Chargers, with additional runs with the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, was found dead today of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In addition to being named to 12 Pro Bowls, Seau was the owner of Seaus The Restuarant and the founder of The Junior Seau Foundation, whose mission statement was "To educate and empower young people through the support of child abuse prevention, drug and alcohol awareness, recreational opportunities, anti-juvenile delinquency efforts and complimentary educational programs.

In 2010, Seau drove his car off a cliff shortly after having been arrested on a domestic violence charge, in what many believed was a suicide attempt, an accusation Seau denied.
posted by The Gooch (110 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
:(
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:34 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by HumanComplex at 12:34 PM on May 2, 2012


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And I wonder (in the least macabre fashion possible) if we'll end up finding out what his brain looked like.
posted by Madamina at 12:37 PM on May 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


Seau is the eighth member of the 1994 Chargers, who reached the Super Bowl and lost to to the San Francisco 49ers, to die at a young age. He was predeceased by Chris Mims, David Griggs, Rodney Culver, Lewis Bush, Curtis Whitley, Shawn Lee and Doug Miller.

Wow.
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:38 PM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by jonmc at 12:39 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by BarnacleKB at 12:39 PM on May 2, 2012


Oh, no.
posted by Curious Artificer at 12:40 PM on May 2, 2012


Shot himself in the chest, which can't happen to a football player anymore without thinking of Dave Duerson.

My second thoughts about enjoying this sport are getting more and more compelling. Turn it into touch football, for all I care at this point.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:40 PM on May 2, 2012 [15 favorites]


Wow. I have to admit my first thought was concussion-induced depression.
posted by slogger at 12:40 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


And I wonder (in the least macabre fashion possible) if we'll end up finding out what his brain looked like.

He apparently shot himself in the chest. This isn't the first football player suicide where the player took measures to make sure his brain was intact. I can't help but think this was intentional.

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posted by eriko at 12:41 PM on May 2, 2012 [34 favorites]


You do have to wonder if choosing to shoot himself in the chest rather than the head was an invitation to look into what was going on in his brain.

This is just tragic. I've said it before here, but we have really got to make some changes in the way football is played.
posted by something something at 12:44 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by saturday_morning at 12:44 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by cazoo at 12:44 PM on May 2, 2012


Man. That sucks. He came into the league right when I was entering kind of a personal golden age of NFL fandom; he's one of the players who was really tied up in my concept of really enjoying the game. The slow buildup of tragedies like this make me steadily more and more sure that I'll never be able to enjoy the NFL again, or even really watch it without giant, nagging feelings of guilt about the spectacle I'm participating in.
posted by COBRA! at 12:48 PM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by drezdn at 12:48 PM on May 2, 2012


One of the most dominating defensive players in Tecmo Super Bowl.

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posted by box at 12:49 PM on May 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


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posted by mosk at 12:50 PM on May 2, 2012


I've commented a bit on the whole 'preserve football, tone down the head injuries' thing (in a previous FP post) and I honestly hope something good comes out of horrible situations like this.

. for him and
..................... for those to come
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:51 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by Joey Michaels at 12:53 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by desjardins at 12:54 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by KevCed at 12:55 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by lordrunningclam at 12:56 PM on May 2, 2012


Damn.

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posted by mattbucher at 12:57 PM on May 2, 2012


One of the most dominating defensive players in Tecmo Super Bowl.

I never thought I'd move from counting Tecmo Super Bowl players still left in the NFL to counting ones that had died.

At least not so quickly.
posted by Copronymus at 12:58 PM on May 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by Lame_username at 1:00 PM on May 2, 2012


Wow. I had forgotten about that previous incident. It's crazy. The guy was handsome as shit, seemed mad cool, and was super talented. Shocking that he shot himself to death just a few years removed from playing.
posted by cashman at 1:00 PM on May 2, 2012


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You know how sometimes you are a fan of one team, and there is a player on another team who always seems to play well against your team, but you can't help but like him a little bit, and you hope that somehow he might end up on your team, but you know the odds of that are extremely low, given the intricacies of player transactions in major sports. Well, the Patriots are my team, and Junior was that player for me. I know he didn't exactly return to the performances of his prime when he signed with the Pats, but I always got a little extra pleasure when he would make a nice play.

Aaaand I think it's about time we start thinking about wrapping up football. We've at least got to look at vast rule changes (rugby-style no pads, players lining up closer to each other at the line of scrimmage, no kickoffs, etc).
posted by Rock Steady at 1:01 PM on May 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


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posted by lester's sock puppet at 1:03 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by Navelgazer at 1:04 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by Thorzdad at 1:05 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by kmz at 1:07 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by oneironaut at 1:07 PM on May 2, 2012


Very sad.

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posted by Maisie at 1:07 PM on May 2, 2012


Seau is the eighth member of the 1994 Chargers, who reached the Super Bowl and lost to to the San Francisco 49ers, to die at a young age. He was predeceased by Chris Mims, David Griggs, Rodney Culver, Lewis Bush, Curtis Whitley, Shawn Lee and Doug Miller.

In fairness, Griggs died in a car accident, Culver died in the Valujet Everglades crash, and Miller got hit by lightning (and then got hit again while CPR was being performed). Whitley had a history of drug use and admitted to using crystal meth regularly. Lee had diabetes and died of complications from double pneumonia. Mims weighed 450 pounds when he died.

Football is clearly killing people early, but it's not the only thing that kills people early.
posted by Etrigan at 1:10 PM on May 2, 2012 [13 favorites]


If convicted criminals on death row or serving life sentences were given the option of competing in to-the-death gladiatorial combat, would such a practice be more or less savage and uncivilized than the modern sport of professional football?
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:10 PM on May 2, 2012


I still remember an "NFL Hits" VHS tape I had when I was in 8th grade and was playing middle school football myself. It was a compendium of helmet-to-helmet knockout hits set to music like ZZ Top, and at the time I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. Junior Seau was featured in quite a few of those collisions.

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posted by BobbyVan at 1:11 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by Elly Vortex at 1:12 PM on May 2, 2012


This is sad.
I can't help but think of the Dave Duerson situation and wonder if this is a similar thing.
It also puts an exclamation point on the suspensions handed down today for the Saints players involved in the bounty scandal.
posted by the1inBK at 1:12 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Two unusual things I remember about Junior Seau:

* He grew up in a huge family without enough bedrooms. He and his brothers lived in the family's garage. When his sisters teased him about having to sleep in the garage, he would say, "Yeah, but look at the size of our bedroom door! We have the biggest door in the house!"

* He's one of the guys that jumped up to pull the idiot Ryan Leaf away from that sportswriter before Leaf did something even more stupid. This always makes an ex-sportswriter like me happy.

Sad, sad, sad. And I love the NFL. Something has to change about brain research and protection. As Malcolm Gladwell said recently, "As long as the risks are explicit, the players warned, and those injured properly compensated, then I'm not sure we can stop people from playing. A better question is whether it is ethical to WATCH football. That's a harder question."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:16 PM on May 2, 2012 [13 favorites]


If convicted criminals on death row or serving life sentences were given the option of competing in to-the-death gladiatorial combat, would such a practice be more or less savage and uncivilized than the modern sport of professional football?

More. Next question.

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posted by joe lisboa at 1:16 PM on May 2, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'm pretty sure he wanted his brain donated to scientific research, and this is the reason he shot himself in the chest. His high profile will advance the progress being sought to hold the NFL accountable for long-term effects of injuries and head trauma. RIP, Junior.
posted by Chuffy at 1:17 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by ob1quixote at 1:19 PM on May 2, 2012


I grew up in San Diego and my dad ran a recording studio, mostly recording and mixing audio for local teevee spots and radio and so forth. He had a lot of local celebrities in because of it, and for a long time he'd pick me up from school in the middle of a recording session and bring me back to the studio to do my homework while he finished up with his own work. In 1994, the year the Chargers went to the Super Bowl, I was eleven. I walked into my dad's studio and Junior Seau was there. He shook my hand. I was only eleven but I could tell that his hands were each the size of a catcher's mitt. He was very nice to me and offered me an autograph, and as a kinda dumb eleven-year old I felt like an autograph would be more authentic on a ball. My dad, of course, didn't have a football in his studio, but he did have a baseball. I was determined that this made sense. So somewhere back in San Diego in my parents' garage, under probably three different piles of junk, is a baseball signed by Junior Seau.

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posted by shakespeherian at 1:19 PM on May 2, 2012 [36 favorites]


Etrigan - the argument that's made is that poor impulse control and extreme risk taking is a effect of CTE-like disorders. the drugs and speeding and jumping in the bed of moving vehicle while fighting with the person driving are things these men might not have done without repeated concussions.
posted by nadawi at 1:26 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


And the overeating.
posted by jamjam at 1:31 PM on May 2, 2012


I was never much of a Chargers fan but I always adored Seau. I'm not even sure why - but he just became one of those players who I cared more about than others.

This tale via Twitter from the Saints Eric Olsen is a fairly wonderful tribute and pretty much hits all my tear-jerking buttons.

Something must be done about professional football, and as it gets closer to next fall, I'm really wondering if I can enjoy football the same way anymore. I haven't exactly dismissed those sentiments when others have said them around here, but I didn't feel them. That's changed. I don't think that it should be banned or what else should happen, but when it comes to my enjoyment, I just don't know.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:45 PM on May 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


oh no this is terrible news

very sad for his family
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:47 PM on May 2, 2012


So sorry.


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posted by 4ster at 1:59 PM on May 2, 2012


The only pro football game I've ever been to was a Chargers/Broncos game in San Diego, in 2001 or '02. The crowd was crazy for him, as much as they were for Flutie.
This is all I remember about the game - how everyone screamed for him.

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posted by ApathyGirl at 2:02 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by Gelatin at 2:03 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by snapped at 2:05 PM on May 2, 2012


The older I get the more I realize that my perspective on life when I was in my late teens was incredibly (probably biologically) skewed. Kids really have to make the decision to try for pro football before their brains are even fully matured. Even now, when CTE is a known problem... if I was 17 and I was told I could make millions a year in exchange for a high probability of early-onset dementia in my 50s, I probably would have figured that there'd be a cure by the time I got 'so old'.
posted by muddgirl at 2:06 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The always thought-provoking Ta-Nehisi Coates says he thinks this is it for him and the NFL:

I now know that I have to go. I have known it for a while now. But I have yet to walk away. For me, the hardest portion is living apart--destroying something that binds me to friends and family. With people whom I would not pass another words, I can debate the greatest running back of all time. It's like losing a language.
posted by COBRA! at 2:06 PM on May 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


When I was in grade school, I joined the football team, got the shoulder pads, and the mouth piece. My mother decided that from then on, the universal punishment for any transgression would be that I couldn't go to football practice, culminating in a total ban. Thanks mom.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:10 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by halseyaa at 2:11 PM on May 2, 2012


StickyCarpet - i think some studies are suggesting the damage is already well on its way by the time the kids leave high school, it's just magnified and worsened through the college system and the nfl.
posted by nadawi at 2:13 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the comments on the Coates post - it's eerily timely: Metta World Peace, Ray Easterling, and our appetite for sanctioned violence
Ray Easterling's eventual dementia was as inevitable a result of the work he did for a living as black lung is for coal miners, or mesothelioma is for the people who work with asbestos. That this simple fact is obscured by an affection the country has for its football is a symptom of a country that has let that affection compromise its moral bearings.
I know most football players make more money than miners, but again that's just a shade over the fact that we, as a country, have accepted the responsibility of protecting workers from harmful working conditions.
posted by muddgirl at 2:13 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember watching Junior play for USC. There are some college players that light up the field, even in someone else's house, and Seau was like that in the PAC-10. I lived in Boston while he was with the Patriots, and friends who'd met him said he was a stand-up guy.

I've been thinking about doing a big post on CTE and its effects in both football and pro wrestling, but it makes me so damn sad every time I start working on it, because I'm part of the problem as a fan.

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posted by catlet at 2:13 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The more I think about the long-term effects of head injuries (which may or may not be the case here), the more I hate the New Orleans Saints.
posted by 4ster at 2:14 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Busithoth at 2:15 PM on May 2, 2012


My dad's favorite non-Bear. I feel very sad for his family.

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posted by sc114 at 2:17 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seau's brain will most likely be studied, and mostly likely reveal evidence of CTE, as have the vast majority of the brains by the BU team. This is raising important questions about violence in football and other contact sports. But it's worth cautioning that a causality between CTE and depression has yet to be proved; nor has it been shown that CTE is a degenerative and progressive condition. The fear is that former players who suffer from depression will assume that they have CTE and that therefore they are doomed to an irreversible decline. It's clear Seau was troubled, as was Duerson. As tragic as their deaths is that they apparently did not seek the help they needed.
posted by stargell at 2:18 PM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Depression has many causes. It'd be nice if the football haters can put their fake medical degrees away at least until more evidence comes to light.
posted by rocket88 at 2:24 PM on May 2, 2012


I'm a huge 49ers fan who was ridiculously excited about their playoff performance last year, and looking forward to a dominating offence next year. To dismiss my concerns as 'hating' is typical, but reductive. Similarly, I don't know how anyone can read Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog posts (where he likens football to the very language he uses to write) and assume that he's a concern troll.
posted by muddgirl at 2:27 PM on May 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


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That man could play the game like few others.
posted by cmfletcher at 2:29 PM on May 2, 2012


i am not a football hater. i'm a lifelong fan. i'm just questioning that position. ignoring the entire issue until there's a mountain of inarguable evidence seems like it might be too long to wait.

whether it's CTE or living your whole life for a fleeting moment and then not having another plan or how little the ncaa and nfl prepare these men for their lives post football, something is wrong and it's not getting better. as a fan, i hope we can find a way forward that supports the players.
posted by nadawi at 2:31 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Depression has many causes. It'd be nice if the football haters can put their fake medical degrees away at least until more evidence comes to light.

I'm concerned because I love football and the people who play it, as are a lot of other fans. My team recently retired an all-time great who was known as a big hitter and a big heart, the outpouring of love was intense. I really don't want to see folks like that end up dead for the sake of entertainment.

I'm concerned because people with medical degrees are concerned, that doesn't make the link certain, but it does make the concern pretty valid.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:35 PM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


You could replace the word football with hockey for a majority of this thread.

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posted by Fizz at 2:42 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Aww, hell no.

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posted by whuppy at 2:52 PM on May 2, 2012


I fear this is just the beginning of a very distressing trend.
posted by tommasz at 2:54 PM on May 2, 2012


I hope the NFL decides to look into the CTE connection as thoroughly as possible. This could lead to huge changes in the game.

The NFL so far has been able to avoid huge changes by distinguishing between those who play the game properly and those who don't, and punishing the latter. The punishment presumes that those not punished are playing football correctly, and I believe this will test that presumption.

It's one thing to punish the Saints for potentially hurting players. And it's another to begin a process that might lead to the acknowledgement that a wonderful player died because of the game. I'm curious to see what strategy the NFL pursues.
posted by phaedon at 3:10 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by lubujackson at 3:11 PM on May 2, 2012


More than 1,000 former players are involved in lawsuits against the NFL. I imagine the league's eyes are wide open to the issue.
posted by stargell at 3:15 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by sabira at 3:32 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by Smart Dalek at 3:35 PM on May 2, 2012


I grew up in San Diego and I am apparently the same age as shakespeherian (hi!) and I have to say that Junior Seau was an icon for kids of that generation.

We all knew Junior was the player to watch back then (like LT would be the player a decade or so later) and yet he also seemed like such a community-oriented guy. He opened the restaurants and he was always active in local charities and seemed to really be ok with the intrusions on his time that NFL celebrity brought (perhaps this was only in contrast to the unbearably sulky Ryan Leaf, but even so). All this and he was a local boy made good.

San Diego isn't known for its sports teams' fans (fairweather fans, quite literally) but I remember how excited folks were about the 1994 Super Bowl. Junior played at Oceanside High School and my school hated OHS but it didn't matter because Junior was a local kid playing for his hometown team and we were happy to have that kind of player to cheer for.

I also remember how upset people were that he couldn't finish out his time in the NFL with the Chargers; there's a parallel between Tony Gynn's tenure with the Padres and how people wanted Junior Seau's time with the Chargers to end. Both men are also absolutely beloved in San Diego (that's a baseball GM talking about him) and for a lot of the same reasons. It is incredibly sad to lose Seau so early.

Our loss.

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posted by librarylis at 3:40 PM on May 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


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I'm a hockey fan only, not a football one; I didn't know a thing about this guy until I learned today that he's gone. But that doesn't make any difference. I've been dealing with depression for all of my adult life and most of my childhood, and he had the monster in his head too. To me that makes us connected, in some way. The same tribe, though not one anybody would want to be a part of.

It's a fresh new hurt whenever somebody loses that fight, no matter who they are.

We need more work on this, more research, more ways of creating help. It's a voracious monster, this disease, and tactfully ignoring it is not good enough. No shame. No silence.
posted by cmyk at 3:41 PM on May 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


Very sad. I was at a conference in San Diego in 2010 at a hotel across the street from where Junior ran his car over the cliff down to the beach. We all came out to look, and were relieved to hear that nobody was hurt. I am not a football fan so did not know who he was , but heard many good things about him from local people that day. Too bad it came to this finally, may he rest in peace.
posted by mermayd at 3:50 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by meinvt at 3:57 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by Big_B at 4:07 PM on May 2, 2012


Such a shame. Ignoring for a moment all the medical questions about traumatic brain injury, it just seems like it would be soul-crushingly terrifying to be "retired" at 35 or 40, with nothing to do for the next 50 years. Sure, the possibilites are endless, but for someone who has been trained their whole life to having seasons and opponents and roster cuts to fight against, and who (these days) can probably afford to not work, it must be really hard to come up with something productive to do.
posted by gjc at 4:09 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are not many multi-millionaire professional athletes about whom one never ever hears anything but positive personal feedback. From what I read and hear and see Junior Seau was about the nicest guy who anybody who ever met him ever met. Heard his former coach Ross on the radio a while ago and he said as great a player as Junior was, he was a greater man. Sad news. RIP.
posted by bukvich at 4:11 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Mittenz at 4:17 PM on May 2, 2012


This will definitively affect my NFL viewing habits. I think that the NFL should take notice that most fans aren't as shallow or callous as one might imagine. People care about their players as people, sometimes more than their own friends and family.
posted by thebestusernameever at 4:25 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is so sad. Probably one of the best open-field tacklers that ever lived.

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posted by Meatafoecure at 4:38 PM on May 2, 2012


My second thoughts about enjoying this sport are getting more and more compelling.

Between Tebow and the Penn State scandal, I finally stopped watching last year. Tebow's trade had initially made me think I might start watching again (it felt weird not to be keeping up at least vaguely with my Broncos), but the sick, empty feeling this story gives me suggests that I seem to have gone off the sport for good after all.

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posted by scody at 4:44 PM on May 2, 2012


can probably afford to not work

there's a prevailing misconception that those who make a fat stack of money hold onto that fat stack - sadly, like most lottery winners and child stars, pro athletes seem to lose it all pretty quickly.

By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.

my husband and i were watching the nfl flims show "hardknocks" and there's this scene where marvin lewis tries to explain to ochocinco how banks work - like, the general concept that you put money in a bank and they loan in out and that's where interest comes from, that it's not just sitting in vaults scrooge mcduck style. ochocinco finished that conversation still not having any idea what his coach was trying to tell him. that's a failure at some level, probably many levels, that a player can sign contracts that big and make that much money and they don't even know how a bank works.
posted by nadawi at 4:45 PM on May 2, 2012 [11 favorites]


here's that scene - and you can see lewis trying to help and saying the same things, that the player has to protect himself financially - but that's not his job, he's got a lot to do and a short amount of time to do it. he does what he can in that 60 seconds, but in end ochocinco is still just as confused. all he can hope for, really, is to have honest people working for him -but, sadly, this kind of money doesn't generally attract the strictly moral.
posted by nadawi at 4:50 PM on May 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


All I can say is, damn.
posted by Senator at 4:52 PM on May 2, 2012


that's a failure at some level, probably many levels, that a player can sign contracts that big and make that much money and they don't even know how a bank works.

Indeed, which is why the NFL actually holds classes for new players in handling these matters, and even then, many of them aren't getting it.

Let's say you're a player making $1 million a year in salary.

* Half of that is gone via taxes (federal, state and local).
* 10 percent is gone via an agent.
* 10 percent is gone via a manager (not all players have managers, though).
* A few percent is gone via union dues.
* You make additional money from likeness rights and league endorsements (not personal endorsements).
* Your family health insurance is taken care of by the team, along with many other team-benefits.

But, your $1 million salary has now been chipped down to about $400,000.

You'll make this for an average of 3.5 years. That's $1.4 million.

And you're done. Forever. That was your college education. It was free, sure. But I hope you majored in something useful.

That's why, if you watched closely, the movie Jerry Maguire was as much about lining up endorsements for the Rod Tidwell character as it was his contract, and how the contract and the perceived value would set up the endorsements.

Rod Tidwell: Nobody's looking out for Rod Tidwell! We don't know where we're going to live in a year!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:17 PM on May 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


my husband and i were watching the nfl flims show "hardknocks" and there's this scene where marvin lewis tries to explain to ochocinco how banks work - like, the general concept that you put money in a bank and they loan in out and that's where interest comes from, that it's not just sitting in vaults scrooge mcduck style. ochocinco finished that conversation still not having any idea what his coach was trying to tell him. that's a failure at some level, probably many levels, that a player can sign contracts that big and make that much money and they don't even know how a bank works.

I blame the NCAA on that one. If they are going to use these guys as free labor and put education second they at least have a responsibility to not let them leave (even if they go pro before graduation) without having real classes on managing their money. I know only a small percent make it to the NFL, but that is a class everyone should be taking anyway.

When they get to the NFL, they are adult professionals and you have to treat them that way.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:32 PM on May 2, 2012


(Yeah, the NFL tries, but people are more receptive to learning how to stretch a dollar before they start having millions waved in their faces.)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:35 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


As in the general population, there are athletes who are smart about money and those who are dumb about money. I wonder if that 78% figure is much different for normal people--who isn't under financial stress to some degree?

A colleague of mine knows the former running back Edgerrin James pretty well. He said James would conduct impromptu financial lessons for rookies, by pulling out his smartphone and showing the young players the balance in his main account: $38 million or whatever. Then there's the famous quote by Carson when he was forcing the Bengals to trade him: "I have $80 million in the bank. I don't ever have to play again."
posted by stargell at 6:09 PM on May 2, 2012


Watching the always-positive and upbeat Marcellus Wiley breaking down on camera when interviewed about this was tough. Watching Junior's mother completely distraught was worse.

RIP Junior

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posted by Nick Verstayne at 6:24 PM on May 2, 2012


Junior Seau's professional football career lasted 19 years. He went to 12 Pro Bowls, was a 10-time All-Pro, and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1994 (I think). A remarkable career. And a lot of time for all those hits to do their insidious damage.

This is so sad. I love the NFL. I've been a football fan all my life. And I've said, as several in this thread have said also, that things must change. I don't know how. I don't know what needs to be done. But things must change.

I resent the comparison of football to blood sport, and the implication that the violence of the game is what sells it to fans. Violence is part of the game, but the game is so much more than that. Watching Barry Sanders or Adrian Peterson run. Watching Randy Moss practically levitate to catch a pass. Watching a well-executed trap block spring a runner from deep behind the line of scrimmage. Sitting on the edge of your seat as your team drives toward the opponent's territory, down by 2 points and the clock ticking away.

Football is so much more than hitting.

But the game must effect fundamental structural changes. In its rules, in its equipment, in its culture. This cannot continue.

And this change must START in Pop Warner and peewee league football, it must spread out over every high school program, it must encompass all college football as well.

I worry that it can't change. That it's too big, too profitable, too monolithic. That fans like me are part of the problem.

Every year I save my money and I wait for the schedules to be released and I coordinate with my friend and we pick a Falcons game to attend. It's a highlight of my year, really. A weekend of beer and hot dogs and wearing my #84 Roddy White jersey and being surrounded by tens of thousands of people screaming their heads off.

And I'm not giving that up. It means too much. So I'm selfish. I'm part of the problem.

I want the game to change. I want the players protected. I don't care about big hits and bone-crunching tackles: they can play flag football if that's what it takes. I'll still watch.

Please, NFL, please, do something. Don't make your fans feel complicit in the deaths of the players who've brought them so much excitement and joy.

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posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:26 PM on May 2, 2012 [20 favorites]


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posted by eddydamascene at 6:29 PM on May 2, 2012


Apparently he shot himself in the chest, presumably so his brain can be examined for damage from all those hits. This makes me very sad.

RIP Jr.
posted by thebestusernameever at 6:35 PM on May 2, 2012


The saddest part to me is that he didn't see an alternative. There is always an alternative, and I hate that no one - not the NFL, not college orientation classes, not middle school football coaches - makes it a priority to make that clear to folks, until they get smacked in the face with a good enough, shocking enough reason. Heck, right now there are dozens of news stories all over the place talking about this terrible story and the best they can do is say "we can't figure out why this happened."

Yes, clearly, the NFL and college football programs should make sure these players (who have spent the overwhelming majority of their lives preparing for the games, rather than for life) understand finances and how to make a living doing something other than football. But they should also make sure they understand you can get help and things can be better than you think they are, and so on. For heaven's sake, understanding how and where to ask for help would reduce the bankruptcies and domestic violence and drug using, too.

The problem with player suicides isn't just getting hit in the head too many times - it's not knowing how to handle the consequences of the hits, too.
posted by SMPA at 6:48 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


A rumination on retiring at age 36 from 14-year NFL vet Trevor Pryce (SLNYT). Pryce tries a light approach to describe what he concedes is a pretty great problem to have, but you do hear the looming horror of unstructured time pressing in on him. Couple that with chronic depression probably caused by repetitive head trauma, and it's easy to see what may have happened to Seau.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:08 PM on May 2, 2012


Please, NFL, please, do something. Don't make your fans feel complicit in the deaths of the players who've brought them so much excitement and joy.

This. I'm having such a hard time staying a fan lately. I'm in football fandom central here, I live four blocks from Heinz Field so I'm basically in the middle of a tailgate during game days, and I love watching games and rooting for Our Stillers but I feel more and more guilty about it every year.
posted by octothorpe at 7:14 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by vrakatar at 7:57 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by one teak forest at 8:07 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by safetyfork at 8:47 PM on May 2, 2012


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posted by expialidocious at 9:21 PM on May 2, 2012


It's really hard to believe. I just saw him a couple weeks ago.

Here's a great video of him at USC that day.
posted by Old Man McKay at 12:45 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by amorphatist at 12:51 AM on May 3, 2012


A great Junior Seau anecdote from a Marine who happened to run into Seau at a bar near Camp Pendleton
posted by The Gooch at 8:54 AM on May 3, 2012


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posted by cass at 9:33 AM on May 3, 2012


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posted by lord_wolf at 10:00 AM on May 3, 2012


I want to chime in here a bit about how quick everyone has jumped to the head trauma angle.

I want to recommend the Mike and Mike podcast (mp3) from yesterday as it was probably their best show ever. There are lots of reasons why the end of a football career can depress.

Essentially, you've had an daily itinerary your whole life. And you've had people around you who have (to use Mike Greenberg's words) a vested interest in whether or not you're doing okay.

A listener texted about the parallels to the suicidal characters in The Shawshank Redemption. You are left with no direction. Let alone the loss of the camaraderie of the locker room, the attention and all that.

That podcast was intelligent, honest, non-hypey, and heartfelt. Not to mention Marcellus Wiley's completely emotionally raw testimonial on Seau.

As to Junior: I'll always remember him walking off the field in his final game, a compound fracture to his arm, sweating and obviously shocky, taking the time to wave and acknowledge the fan's appreciation.

Junior's family have agreed to allow his brain to be examined. It's possible there will be concussive damage found. But 70 to 80 percent of retired football players are bankrupt and/ore divorced withing two years of their retirement from the league. There are other issues here.
posted by Trochanter at 12:26 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


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