From the moment former Dolphins star Junior Seau took his own life last May, many questioned whether brain injuries linked to the dozens of concussions he'd suffered may have contributed to his death at just 43 years old.
This morning, scientists at the National Institutes of Health have an answer: Seau indeed suffered from the same traumatic brain disease linked to scores of former NFL stars, including Dave Duerson, who killed himself in a Sunny Isles Beach condo two years ago.
The NIH examined three unidentified brains (one of them Seau's) and determined that the former football player's showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a brain condition linked to repeated concussions.
"I was not surprised after learning a little about CTE that he had it," Tyler, Seau's 23-year-old son, tells the AP. "He did play so many years at that level. I was more just kind of angry I didn't do something more and have the awareness to help him more, and now it is too late."
The findings are sure to add to the pressure on the NFL to do more to limit concussions and to do a better job caring for players once they leave the league. The NIH reported last month that 34 other former pros they examined had CTE.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
His case is a tragic echo of Duerson's story; before killing himself in Sunny Isles, the former Chicago Bears star left a note asking that his brain be studied.
As for Seau's family, his son Jake, a high school junior, has now switched from football to lacrosse.
"Watching what his dad went through, he says, 'Why would I risk lacrosse for football?'" Gina Seau, Junior's ex-wife, says.