It took me three days to write this column. I didn’t and
my thoughts on the death of another contemporary to be
emotionally charged (even though that seems to be the only
continue to channel). I don’t like thinking about these
and their direction, tone or meaning. The words that make
sentences and the paragraphs thereof are personal.
The death of Junior Seau kicked me in the face. I met
couple of times and had the opportunity to play against
results were not so opportune.
Junior’s death made me think of a friend, a guy I got to
playing football in Hawaii: Dave Duerson.
Dave Duerson was a friend, a peer and contemporary, but he
also one of the most squared-away individuals I have ever
Duerson was big, strong, fast, athletic, the ladies loved
this is not what I remember most about Double-D. What I
remember most about him was he was one of the smartest,
headed, calculating, confident, in control people we as a
can or ever will generate.
Despite suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
degenerative brain disease that often develops into
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
for Double-D and his family, this last act of defiance by
time friend made me smile.
Whatever the disease does to people, whatever the
whatever control it had over Dave Duerson, in the end the
Politician used his brain to retake control of his life.
doctors at Boston University and the Center for the Study
Traumatic Encephalopathy confirmed Duerson had CTE,
was still calculating to the very end. He wanted the very
was betraying his person, his brain, intact.
Now hear me well: I do not write these words to glorify or
what my one-time friend did; I do not understand how he
such a thing…not Double-D.
But you should know I do not judge him; nor will I judge
Junior Seau’s family is currently considering whether or
should have Junior’s brain examined. They do not wish to
rash decision while flooded in grief. Of course there’s no
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
Junior’s the problem.
The dilemma for the Seaus might include the juxtaposition
Junior’s life with his death. Within the context of the
Junior Seau was a warrior. According to medical reports,
never suffered a concussion. In twenty years of playing
one of the
most brutal, physically demanding, high-impact positions
field he never suffered a concussion…
Or maybe he just played through it. Junior’s ex-wife,
that he just played through it. She called him a “warrior”
was part of the problem, one half of the dilemma.
If Junior never told trainers and doctors that he thought
concussed and elected to just play through it, there must
a reason why he didn’t, right? Why didn’t Junior Seau tell
medical staff that he was feeling weird or had symptoms
with a concussion? Why?
Enter the warrior…
Junior Seau didn’t choose to inform the medical staff of
condition because something told him inside it was part of
game and overcoming such adversaries made him who he was;
was a badge of pride and honor. Today we can say with
was an imprudent badge but back when Junior came into the
it was a badge most players coveted, valued and worked to
After Junior’s death the Seau family deliberated and
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
were going to allow the Brain Injury Research Institute to
Junior’s brain; then they changed their mind and said they
want to rush into any decision and wanted to rethink their
Why the change of heart? Why the hesitation? What could it
I wonder if Junior’s beautiful family knows what his
feelings were –
right or wrong – in regard to how the game was to be
do not wish to smear what Junior valued so much by
brain to be examined? Maybe they know Junior wouldn’t have
any other way? Maybe they know Junior wouldn’t have
thing about how he played even if he were starting his
Maybe his family believes they would be indirectly
what he believed and the game he loved? Maybe the Seau
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
that’s okay; it’s your prerogative to feel any way you
this story. But I will promise you there are many other
clans that have, can and will empathize with my musing.
Even if Junior’s family comes out and allows his brain to
examined, even if they find nothing close to CTE, in the
professional mercenaries the above questions remain and
for families that can and do empathize with works of art
members of their clan.
I know mine does.