Junior Seau was one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history. Over his 20-year career, he amassed 1,522 tackles with the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. Seau had a fighting spirit; he fought on every snap of every game. A man making a fortune playing a child’s game, Seau played with the unbridled enthusiasm fans love to see in the National Football League. However, enthusiasm and a fighting spirit were not the only down payments Seau made for his career.
In May 2012, only two years after retirement, Seau took his own life. An autopsy revealed he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, the degenerative disorder found in the brains of 76 of 79 deceased NFL players. Facing these irrefutable facts and public scorn, the NFL struck a $765 million settlement with their ex-players in 2013. Seau’s family, though eligible, opted out of the lawsuit. Just like their father, Seau’s family has opted to fight. Money isn’t the issue; the family wants the NFL to disclose facts and take responsibility.
In the settlement of the lawsuit, the NFL did not have to disclose any facts or take responsibility. If more families pursue this course, the NFL’s very existence will be at stake. The unveiling of inconvenient truths will change the minds of the young men who are the lifeblood and soul of the sport. Junior Seau’s willingness to fight with unbridled enthusiasm made him legendary. If his family has their way, his spirit will lead the way toward change in football. His family will continue to fight, just like him.