Junior Seau's family revisiting decision to donate his brain
The family of Junior Seau is revisiting the decision to allow his brain to be examined for possible injuries from his football career.
"The Seau family is currently revisiting several important family decisions and placing them on hold in order to confer with their elders," according to a statement from Pastor Shawn Mitchell, longtime San Diego Charger chaplain and now pastor of the New Venture Christian Fellowship in Oceanside.
"All possibilities are being considered, but none will be acted upon until the Seaus arrive at an agreed upon direction," the statement said.
In the Samoan culture, family decisions are made after discussion among elders.
The issue of brain injuries among football players has been highlighted by the early death of several former players. Although Seau was not known publicly for having had concussions, that does not rule out the possibility that his brain was injured during his long career, specialists said.
Some observors have suggested similarities between the deaths of Seau and former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest last year. In a suicide note, Duerson had asked his family to donate his brain to the Boston University School of Medicine.
Researchers from that school later determined that Duerson suffered from a neurodegenerative disease linked to concussions, and that that played a role in triggering his depression.
Seau's ex-wife, Gina, told ESPN that he suffered numerous concussions during his 20-year career: "Of course he had. He always bounced back and kept on playing. He's a warrior. That didn't stop him. I don't know what football player hasn't. It's not ballet. It's part of the game."
The 43-year-old Seau was found dead Wednesday in his Oceanside home from a self-inflicted gunshot to the chest. The gun was found nearby, but Seau left no note. Friends and family members have said they have no clue why he commited suicide.
After completing an autopsy on Seau, the San Diego County medical examiner’s office, in a news release, said it is "awaiting the family's decision regarding the study of the brain for repetitive injury by researchers outside of the office.”
An All-American at USC and 12-time NFL Pro Bowl linebacker, Seau played 13 seasons with the San Diego Chargers and three seasons with the Miami Dolphins. He left the game briefly but then played with the New England Patriots for four seasons before calling it quits for good after the 2009 season.
--Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Surfers at a memorial paddle-out Sunday in honor of Junior Seau in front of the former football player's home in Oceanside. The splashing of water is a traditional surfer method of saying farewell to a respected member of the surfing community. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times.