People are still morning the loss of Junior Seau amid the rumors that he did or didn’t die by suicide. Seau played for the Chargers, Dolphins and the Patriots during his incredible career. He was a superhero on the field and looked at as a role model by many. He was always spoken of in such high esteem by any and every player that played with him. But in the end, it seems like he wasn’t the same without the game he loved. Or was it the game he loved that was the end of him? Seau was reportedly found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chest. Some people may not take a second glance at this happening, but there is a pattern worth looking at.
Seau wasn’t the first former NFL player that died from a gunshot wound to the chest. Former NFL player Dave Duerson complained to his family that he felt something was not right with him. He felt that his mental stability was not there and said that something was going on. Duerson ended up eventually succumbing to the mental instability that he complained about with the gunshot wound. He was 50 at the time of the incident. These two deaths in two years in the same exact way have certainly alarmed the sports world. But what is even more alarming is that both of these guys may have sustained trauma to their heads while playing the games. And many think that the brain trauma may have led to their untimely deaths.
Head trauma and concussion injuries have picked up in the game over the years. And because of it, more and more rules have been implemented that can help make the game safer. Rules like the defenseless receiver rule have been brought in to limit the damage that happens to players and their bodies during their playing careers. But what happens to players after their playing career ends? What happens when the bright lights are turned off and the glitz and glamour go away? Many of these players are dealing with the hurt from their playing days after the journey is over.
I feel that the NFL needs to do more for players after they retire. Duerson was calling out for help, but no one besides his family heard him. You can almost guarantee that no one in the NFL heard his screams of pain and saw his constant fight for mental stability. Goodell has done some things for the current players, but what about the forefathers? Shouldn’t their lives be just as important? Shouldn’t they get some benefits as well?
If Goodell wants to make some things right with all, he must divert some monies to the veterans that made the NFL what it is today. Maybe he can implement symposiums for the retiring players like he does for the rookies when they enter the league. If the former players don’t show up, then the outcome of their lives would be all on them. But at least the NFL would be making the effort to try and assist them in their transition back to civilian life.
Another change that would need to be made is to assist the veterans more with benefits. I think that over their careers, they have obtained some bumps and bruises that need constant care and attention and quite frankly, the NFL hasn’t stepped up in that instance. Maybe if they would have, Dave Duerson would still be here with us.
I look forward to all the things that the NFL does to make the game safer but still entertaining, but I believe that the veterans are getting left in the cold while the new guys are benefiting off the things the vets went through.
Roger Goodell has done a good job as a commissioner in my opinion. He has made players more accountable for their actions with the conduct policy. He has taken a hard stance against some of the foolishness that used to go on the NFL on sidelines and on the field. But one thing that he needs to do is get these veterans some help and take care of them more than what he has. The time has come for some movement to be made in this front and that has to happen soon . If it doesn’t, we could have another situation like Seau and Duerson and no one wants to see that happen.