I’ve always thought that middle linebacker is the glamour position of a defense. It’s the quarterback on that side of the ball, as so many people say.
And for a lot of people my age, that glamour player at middle linebacker during our youth was Junior Seau. His play was both supremely intelligent and physically devastating to an opponent, all at the same time.
So you could imagine my surprise to see Seau had passed away Wednesday at the age of 43. Investigators believe he committed suicide.
Seau was a 12-time Pro Bowler who played a 20-year NFL career that wrapped up in 2009. He was unquestionably the premier player at his position during the prime of his career.
Yet Wednesday’s news brings all sorts of questions. Seau is the biggest name among the tragedies that have surrounded former NFL players in recent years.
League and medical officials continue to debate and discuss the effects that concussions had on former players. And while no line can be clearly drawn between the hits that Seau took in his career and his untimely death, it’s hard to ignore the long line of players who have lost their lives – suicide or otherwise – in recent years.
It’s been almost 10 years since Hall of Fame center Mike Webster died at the age of 50 after suffering from amnesia and dementia during his post-playing career.
It’s been only one year since former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson committed suicide. Following his death, it was found that Duerson suffered from a neurodegenerative disease linked to concussions.
The most shocking fact of all might be this: Seau is already the eighth player from the 1994 San Diego Chargers team that reached a Super Bowl to pass away too soon, joining the likes of Chris Mims and Rodney Culver.
Why Seau supposedly chose to take his own life, we may never know. But hopefully some steps can be taken quickly to solve the concussion issue and at least help prevent future NFL tragedies.