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Junior Seau’s Family Allow Study Of Late NFL Player’s Brain

By Randall Stevens   /   Published 05/04/12

Junior SeauJust days after the tragic death of former NFL great Junior Seau, his family has revealed that they will allow researchers to study his brain for signs of damage caused by concussions suffered during his 20-year NFL career.

Reports say the San Diego County medical examiner ruled Seau's death a suicide Thursday (May 3), a day after the former linebacker was found at his home with a gunshot wound to the chest.

He was 43 years old.

"The family was considering this almost from the beginning, but they didn't want to make any emotional decisions," Chargers team chaplain Shawn Mitchell told the Los Angeles Times. "And when they came to a joint decision that absolutely this was the best thing, it was a natural occurrence for the Seau family to go forward."

Seau's ex-wife, Gina, told the Associated Press that while Seau suffered concussions during his playing career, she had no idea if they somehow contributed to his death.

Mitchell said Seau's family hoped "to help other individuals down the road" with the research on his brian. However, he said they were not speculating as to whether concussions were a factor in Seau's suicide.

Family and friends have said they weren't aware of any other issues that may have led to Seau's suicide; and as of press time, police said no suicide note was found.

Seau played his first 13 seasons with the Chargers before moving on to the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots. In San Diego, he led the Chargers to only Super Bowl, after the 1994 season, was voted to a Chargers-record 12 straight Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro six times.

Further autopsy details, including results of toxicology tests, will be released in a final investigative report, which may take up to 90 days to complete.