Seau Suicide Highlights Athletes' Post-Career Risks

By Tonia Magras

May 4, 2012
BOSTON — The day after the suicide of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau at 43 stunned the football world, an emotional Bob Kraft of the New England Patriots shared his thoughts.
"He sent me something in the few weeks after Myra’s passing and he wrote, 'I’m so sorry about the passing of Mrs. Kraft' — " Kraft began to cry as he continued — "'She was an inspiration to me. I have so much respect for all she did and to help people lead better lives. I’ll always be there for you and your family.'"
Among sad football deaths, this "is one of the most dramatic because of how great Seau was … he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer," said Damon Amendolara, host of 98.5 The Sports Hub.
"Inside of that locker room, he was a hero," said sports reporter Chris Collins of NECN, who covered Seau at the end of his career, with the New England Patriots. "He was a teacher, he was a mentor and he was a friend."
Seau’s state of mind and the details surrounding a car accident in 2010 have led some to question whether years of head bumping contributed to his death.
His family said there were no signs of stress or depression — and his sister Annette said the media would "overblow this."
Amendolara said Seau had no notable on-field accidents but pointed out that over much of his career, people weren't focusing on head injuries — and that the linebacker had spent "over 20 years in the most violent position in the football field."
While no one knows what drove Seau to take his own life, former NFL player Tiki Barber said that depression is common among former NFL players: "There is a façade that sits around athletes that we are these strong, emotionally strong, powerful beings, when in fact, we’re just human beings."
Collins agreed that turbulent currents could lie under the façade. "I know a lot of retired NFL players and a lot of them are going through the same type of deal: When you see them out, when you see them on the golf course everything is fine but they're in a dark place when they get home."
Said Amendolara, "It should shine the light right now on former players and what they deal with, whether it's because of the violence of the game and head injuries or just removing themselves from the adrenaline rush — because this is happening far too much."

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