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Suicides of Ex-NFL Players Linked to Permanent Brain Injury Cases?

Craig McClellan

Could former Charger's player Junior Seau's suicide be linked to a possible brain injury from repetitive hits during the game? Lawsuits filed against the NFL this past year believe that it could be the case.

Last week, 81 lawsuits involving over 2,000 players were consolidated in a federal court in Philadelphia. Among these lawsuits were several wrongful death claims, including those filed by surviving family members of former Chicago Bears player Dave Duerson and Atlanta Falcons player Ray Easterling.

Similar to Seau, Duerson and Easterling killed committed suicide after showing signs of permanent brain damage, including dementia. Both wanted their brains to be studied, believing that repeat head trauma from playing professional football is what led to long-term brain damage.

These lawsuits and dozens of others were consolidated into a "mega" complaint. The complaint alleges that the National Football League has known for years about the possible long-term effects of repeated traumatic head impacts, and has even gone so far to hide medical reports stating such.

The complaint notes that the NFL has continued to hide such information - even going so far as to "produce[] industry-funded, biased and falsified research" - because it makes money off of big hits and vicious collisions. The complaint pointed out that in October 2010, the league fined players for a number of illegal and dangerous hits, but then later sold photos of those same hits on its own website. Actions such as this, coupled with the highlights featured on NFL Films, seem to glorify the violence that leads to brain damage.

The recently consolidated case is still in its early phase: In re National Football Players' Concussion Injury Litigation, 12-md-02323, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

Junior Seau's family is still deciding whether they will donate his brain to research.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Former NFL Players Consolidate Head-Injury Claims Against League," 6/7/12.