NFL Veteran Junior Seau Dead At 43

Junior Seau, who went to the Pro Bowl twelve times over a 20 year career in in which he played with the Chargers, Dolphins, and Patriots, was found dead in his home earlier today of an apparent suicide:

Former longtime NFL linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide today at his Oceanside, Calif., home.

San Diego Chargers Chaplain Shawn Mitchell told that Seau died of a “self inflicted gunshot wound to the chest this morning.” Seau was 43.

The Chargers released a statement to ABC News’ San Diego affiliate: “Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now. We ask everyone to stop what they’re doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family.”

Seau drove his SUV off a cliff in Carlsbad, Calif., in 2010, hours after being released from jail following a domestic violence arrest regarding his 25-year-old live-in girlfriend. Seau told police he drove off the cliff because he fell asleep behind the wheel, and police saw no evidence alcohol or drugs were involved, though some suspected Seau intended to commit suicide.

Seau played in the NFL for 20 years for teams including the Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. He leaves behind three children and an ex-wife, Gina Deboer.

Seau has mostly been out of the press since retiring but one gets the impression that he hasn’t had the best transition to a post-NFL life. This is a sad way to end it though.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. Chris Berez says:

    I was really saddened to hear this news. I loved Seau during his time in New England. What a tragic thing to have happen. I wish he had been able to get the help he needed instead of feeling he had no choice but to resort to suicide.

  2. Self inflicted gunshot wound to the chest? Who commits suicide by shooting themselves in the chest. I’d buy an accidental discharge, but sounds odd for a suicide.

  3. Chris Berez says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    It’s common for NFL players who commit suicide to shoot themselves in the chest instead of the head so that their brains can still be studied for the impacts of multiple concussions. And Seau apparently noted that this was indeed his reasoning in his suicide note.

  4. .@Chris Berez:

    I’m hearing the same reports about the suicide note. Like you said this is the 2nd or 3rd time this has happened. I think this whole head injury issue is going to become a much bigger deal for the NFL in the future.

  5. mattb says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I think this whole head injury issue is going to become a much bigger deal for the NFL in the future.

    As soon as I heard about this and saw his age, I assumed that it was brain related. I sadly expect that it’s going to have to first go the way of Steroids in Baseball – that traction will only happen through public shaming. And that’s going to take a while as the idea of the “manliness” of the game is so tied to the hitting, and I suspect there are a lot of knuckle head fans who would reject the idea outright of better protection (or rules to protect) players.

    Considering that boxing has yet to address it’s brain trauma related problems, it’s hard to see when football will do so.

  6. @mattb:

    I would’ve thought that the sad fate of Muhammad Ali would’ve been enough to force boxing to address brain trauma issues, sadly it wasn’t.

    There’s at least one pending lawsuit by NFL veterans that I am aware of. Maybe the prospect of monetary damages will be enough to get some action.

  7. PJ says:

    Tragic news for those close to him.

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Seau has mostly been out of the press since retiring but one gets the impression that he hasn’t had the best transition to a post-NFL life.

    Most don’t.

    By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.

  8. Chris Berez says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Yes, I think you’re right. The NFL has been coming under increasing pressure to better deal with head injuries and they’ve started to take small moves here and there. But the health of retired players has been coming under increasing media scrutiny in recent years (thank goodness for that); and I think that this coming in such close proximity to the Saints’ bounty schedule is going to probably help insure that there is a much larger discussion around this death. The trick will be for the sports media to not let it fade away in a week or two and to make sure the issue stays out front.

  9. Franklin says:

    Great player. I love football, so the question is: are we supposed to feel guilty watching these guys permanently damage their facilities right before our very eyes?

  10. Rick Almeida says:

    This is very sad news. From everything I heard and saw, he was a class act as well as a heck of a football player.

  11. anjin-san says:

    NFL football is meat grinder for the players. Many have short to very short careers, and live with pain for the rest of their lives. Even the big winners continue to pay a large price in pain. Howie Long’s comment when asked how much pain he lived with was “I don’t have any good days”.

    I still have a dinged up knee from a few years of high school football. Can hardly imagine what these guys deal with. And as it was noted above, many are in serious financial duress just a few years after retirement.

  12. al-Ameda says:

    A very sad story.

    I’m now think that the NFL’s long incredible run as America’s sports entertainment darling is coming to an end, or least it will be topping out.

    A public health record is now emerging: Many players now know they will have shortened life spans – due to the effects of constant high-speed hits and collisions; linemen who bulk up to near-obesity levels; many players regularly use performance supplements; many have multiple knee, ankle and joint surgeries. It can’t go on indefinitely.

    The day is not far off – the NFL is going to face a lot of litigation related to concussions and physical deterioration.

  13. mattb says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I would’ve thought that the sad fate of Muhammad Ali would’ve been enough to force boxing to address brain trauma issues, sadly it wasn’t.

    To some degree it can’t as the only answer would be to make the sport, outwardly, more barbaric looking. It comes down to the gloves — basically they were designed both to protect the hands and to make matches last longer (and to some degree be less bloody. The problem is that they allow for a LOT more blunt force trauma to be sustained over a far longer period.

    Ironically, though MMA looks far more brutal and typically is far more bloody than a boxing match, the fact is it’s (under a modern UFC rule set) far less damaging in the long term to the participants than boxing (or even Football). That’s thanks in part to the fact that the gloves weigh far less and the matches are much shorter.

    All that said, any sport where people are regularly knocked out via striking is going to cause brain trauma over the long term.

  14. @Chris Berez: “Common”? Suicide note? I can think of one NFL player who did this for this reason (though the circumstances point to it). Where are you getting this information?

  15. @al-Ameda: Everyone loves hot dogs. But no one wants to know how they’re made.

    The same is true of NFL football.

  16. Lit3Bolt says:

    Churn ’em and burn ’em.

    I for one am shocked, shocked, to hear about the damage done to men’s bodies in America’s Favorite Bloodsport.