SAN DIEGO (Los Angeles Times) — The family of football star Junior Seau is suing the National Football League, asserting that he committed suicide because of brain injuries he suffered during his career.
“We know this lawsuit will not bring back Junior,” the family said in a statement given to the Associated Press. “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.”
Seau commited suicide in May 2012 at his home in Oceanside. An examination of his brain by the National Institutes of Health found that he was suffering from a degenerative brain disease.
More than 2,000 former players and their survivors are suing the NFL over head injuries, raising allegations similar to those in the Seau family lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in San Diego County Superior Court.
The NIH study found that Seau had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive disease linked to mood swings, depression, irritability, insomnia and, in later stages, dementia.
Seau, 43, who retired in 2009, killed himself with a gunshot without leaving a note. His family and friends have struggled to explain his actions.
An initial autopsy in San Diego found no brain damage due to his career as a bruising linebacker for Oceanside High, USC and later several NFL teams, most notably the San Diego Chargers. But the family asked for a more in-depth examination to be performed by the National Institutes of Health.
Plaintiffs in the Seau suit are his ex-wife, Gina, his children Tyler, Sydney, Jake and Hunter, and Bette Hoffman, trustee of his estate.
The lawsuit allegedly criticizes NFL Films for promoting the violent nature of the sport. The Seaus are also suing Riddell Inc., the company that manufactures helmets used in the NFL.