Family of former Chargers star Junior Seau sues NFL over suicide

Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:54pm EST
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By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The family of former San Diego Chargers star Junior Seau, who killed himself last year, sued the National Football League on Wednesday, claiming that his suicide resulted from brain disease caused by repeated hits to the head during his football career.

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed in San Diego Superior Court by Seau's children and ex-wife, as well as the trustee of his estate, also claims that the NFL concealed the risks of brain damage in the sport, court documents showed.

"We know this lawsuit will not bring back Junior," the Seau family said in a written statement. "But it will send a message that the NFL needs to care for its former players, acknowledge its decades of deception on the issue of head injuries and player safety, and make the game safer for future generations."

An NFL spokesman, Greg Aiello, told Reuters the league's attorneys would review the lawsuit and respond to the claims appropriately through the court.

Seau, a 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker for the Chargers and two other teams, died in May 2012 after shooting himself in the chest at his beachfront house in his hometown of Oceanside, California.

A study by a team of independent researchers released earlier this month found that Seau, 43, suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE - the same debilitating brain disease diagnosed in at least two other former NFL players who committed suicide.

The NFL has previously said the result of the examination of Seau's brain underscored "the recognized need for additional research to accelerate a fuller understanding of CTE." NFL clubs have already committed a $30 million research grant to the National Institutes of Health.

Increased awareness and knowledge about brain injuries have unsettled the National Football League, a $9 billion a year industry. The league has attempted to institute rule changes protecting player safety while still preserving the spectacle that fans enjoy, which is partly based on the speed and power of the athletes colliding with one another.   Continued...

Family members hold up a No. 55 jersey as part of a ceremony held in memory of the late former USC Trojans, San Diego Chargers and NFL linebacker Junior Seau after the first quarter of the NCAA football game between the USC Trojans and the Hawaii Warriors in Los Angeles September 1, 2012. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok