CLEVELAND - When Junior Seau died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest Wednesday, he left no suicide note, but the way he died sent shockwaves around the league for it mirrored the death last year of former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson.
“Duerson shot himself in the chest, in the heart because he didn’t want to disturb his brain because he felt like he had CTE that's chronic traumatic encephalopathy,” said former Brown and WEWS Browns Analyst Reggie Rucker.
“This is what the researchers are saying that we football players have in our brain and we're suffering from it and it leads to a multitude of illnesses."
Illnesses that include depression, dementia, Alzheimer's, even ALS also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. CTE comes from concussions and other cumulative blows to the head.
"The thing about chronic traumatic encephalopathy is it can't be diagnosed if you're alive," said Rucker. "It just seems to me that Seau shot himself in the chest so he could preserve his brain for research," he said.
In addition to Duerson at least three other former NFL players took their own lives in a span of just over a year, all showed signs of head trauma.
It was Duerson though that opened eyes with his death for he deliberately asked in his suicide note that his brain be sent to Boston to be studied by researchers who are looking into the connection between football players and CTE, it was and he had the condition.
Rucker says the NFL Players Association is urging all former players to make plans to donate their brains when they die to this effort to be studied. More than 20 former NFL players brains have been studied and found to have CTE.
In the meantime, he urges players to seek help.
"I pray that anyone out there, former player who has any of these symptoms get help very quickly because CTE is something that most people ultimately cannot deal with."
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