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Doug & Wolf

Updated May 7, 2012 - 4:37 pm

The Seau’s Dilemma

It took me three days to write this column. I didn’t and
don’t want
my thoughts on the death of another contemporary to be
emotionally charged (even though that seems to be the only
thing I
continue to channel). I don’t like thinking about these
sentences
and their direction, tone or meaning. The words that make
up these
sentences and the paragraphs thereof are personal.

The death of Junior Seau kicked me in the face. I met
Junior a
couple of times and had the opportunity to play against
him. The
results were not so opportune.

Junior’s death made me think of a friend, a guy I got to
know while
playing football in Hawaii: Dave Duerson.

Dave Duerson was a friend, a peer and contemporary, but he
was
also one of the most squared-away individuals I have ever
met.
Duerson was big, strong, fast, athletic, the ladies loved
him; but
this is not what I remember most about Double-D. What I
remember most about him was he was one of the smartest,
level-
headed, calculating, confident, in control people we as a
species
can or ever will generate.

Despite suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
(CTE), a
degenerative brain disease that often develops into
dementia,
Duerson killed himself by shooting a bullet into his chest
and left a
note telling his family to have his brain examined.

Even with the horror of the circumstances, after months of
sadness
for Double-D and his family, this last act of defiance by
my one-
time friend made me smile.

Whatever the disease does to people, whatever the
manifestations,
whatever control it had over Dave Duerson, in the end the
Warrior-
Politician used his brain to retake control of his life.
Although the
doctors at Boston University and the Center for the Study
of
Traumatic Encephalopathy confirmed Duerson had CTE,
Double-D
was still calculating to the very end. He wanted the very
thing that
was betraying his person, his brain, intact.

Now hear me well: I do not write these words to glorify or
condone
what my one-time friend did; I do not understand how he
could do
such a thing…not Double-D.

But you should know I do not judge him; nor will I judge
Junior
Seau.

Junior Seau’s family is currently considering whether or
not they
should have Junior’s brain examined. They do not wish to
make a
rash decision while flooded in grief. Of course there’s no
right or
wrong answer to their dilemma.

And it is a dilemma.

Many people don’t understand why the Seaus would balk at
allowing medical examiners to get to the truth; what’s the
problem?

Junior’s the problem.

The dilemma for the Seaus might include the juxtaposition
of
Junior’s life with his death. Within the context of the
Bloodsport,
Junior Seau was a warrior. According to medical reports,
Junior Seau
never suffered a concussion. In twenty years of playing
one of the
most brutal, physically demanding, high-impact positions
on the
field he never suffered a concussion…

Or maybe he just played through it. Junior’s ex-wife,
Gina, implied
that he just played through it. She called him a “warrior”
and that
was part of the problem, one half of the dilemma.

If Junior never told trainers and doctors that he thought
he was
concussed and elected to just play through it, there must
have been
a reason why he didn’t, right? Why didn’t Junior Seau tell
the
medical staff that he was feeling weird or had symptoms
consistent
with a concussion? Why?

Enter the warrior…

Junior Seau didn’t choose to inform the medical staff of
his
condition because something told him inside it was part of
the
game and overcoming such adversaries made him who he was;
it
was a badge of pride and honor. Today we can say with
certitude it
was an imprudent badge but back when Junior came into the
league
it was a badge most players coveted, valued and worked to
wear.

After Junior’s death the Seau family deliberated and
mourned their
loss, saying they were going to take some time to
determine if they
were going to allow Junior’s brain to be tested; word came
our they
were going to allow the Brain Injury Research Institute to
examine
Junior’s brain; then they changed their mind and said they
didn’t
want to rush into any decision and wanted to rethink their
position.

Why the change of heart? Why the hesitation? What could it
possibly
hurt?

I wonder if Junior’s beautiful family knows what his
feelings were –
right or wrong – in regard to how the game was to be
played and
do not wish to smear what Junior valued so much by
allowing his
brain to be examined? Maybe they know Junior wouldn’t have
had it
any other way? Maybe they know Junior wouldn’t have
changed a
thing about how he played even if he were starting his
career today?
Maybe his family believes they would be indirectly
attacking Junior,
what he believed and the game he loved? Maybe the Seau
family
know who and what Junior was and are thankful the game of
football afforded their son, brother, father, uncle,
nephew a canvas
in which to paint his masterpiece?

These suppositions may seem foreign and ridiculous to
many. And
that’s okay; it’s your prerogative to feel any way you
want about
this story. But I will promise you there are many other
families and
clans that have, can and will empathize with my musing.

Even if Junior’s family comes out and allows his brain to
be
examined, even if they find nothing close to CTE, in the
world of
professional mercenaries the above questions remain and
are real
for families that can and do empathize with works of art
from
members of their clan.

I know mine does.

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