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Junior Seau’s family sues NFL over brain damage

The former San Diego Chargers linebacker committed suicide last May, and a subsequent study showed that he suffered from a degenerative brain disease

Just weeks shy of the Super Bowl, the National Football League (NFL) is making headlines as the subject of yet another lawsuit related to the suicide of a player.

The family of former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau filed the latest suit, claiming that the brain damage Seau suffered during his 20-year career led to his suicide. Seau shot himself in the chest last May, and a subsequent study by the National Institutes of Health found that the 43-year-old suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative neurological disease linked to head injuries.

Seau’s family claims that the NFL knowingly concealed the risks associated with repeated blows to the head, saying in a statement that the league “propogated the false myth that collisions of all kinds...many of which lead to short-term and long-term neurological damage to players, are an acceptable, desired and natural consequence of the game.” Their lawsuit claims fraud, wrongful death and negligence, and seeks unspecified damages from the NFL and several football helmet makers.

This certainly isn’t the first time the league has faced criticism—and legal action—over head injuries. Last June, more than 2,000 players filed a unified complaint that accuses the NFL of failing to inform them about the health risks of playing football.

Seau’s death followed several other high-profile suicides by former players, including former NFL safeties Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling. Autopsies on both men revealed evidence of brain damage.

Until recently, CTE could only be observed during autopsies. But earlier this week, researchers at UCLA published a study in which they claim to have spotted CTE in living players for the first time, using a special brain-imaging tool that showed a buildup of abnormal proteins in the brains of five retired NFL players.

Read more at Thomson Reuters.

For more sports-related lawsuits, see:

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Contributing Author

Alanna Byrne

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