Junior Seau’s family sues NFL over brain injuries

Junior Seau played for three NFL teams, including the New England Patriots. (Charles Krupa / AP)

The family of Junior Seau has filed a lawsuit against the NFL, alleging that he committed suicide because of brain disease caused by repeated violent hits over the course of his football career.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed Wednesday in California Superior Court in San Diego, where Seau committed suicide last May by shooting himself in the chest. It alleges, according to the Associated Press, that the NFL, though “acts or omissions,” hid the dangers of repetitive blows to the head. Seau’s family recently revealed that an examination of his brain showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia, memory loss, behavioral changes and depression.

The Seau family’s lawsuit alleges that the NFL of ignored and concealed evidence of the risks associated with traumatic brain injuries. Seau’s family is just the latest to sue the NFL; nearly 4,000 former players have sued as the dangers of concussions have become apparent.

The Seau family also is suing Riddell, Inc., the helmet manufacturer they say “negligent in their design, testing, assembly, manufacture, marketing, and engineering of the helmets.” used by NFL players.

“We were saddened to learn that Junior, a loving father and teammate, suffered from CTE,” the family said in a statement released to the Associated Press. “While Junior always expected to have aches and pains from his playing days, none of us ever fathomed that he would suffer a debilitating brain disease that would cause him to leave us too soon.

“We know this lawsuit will not bring back Junior. 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.”

Junior Seau’s ex-wife Gina and children Tyler, Sydney, Jake and Hunter are the plaintiffs, along with Bette Hoffman, trustee of Seau’s estate.

The lawsuit accuses the NFL, and NFL Films, of creating the myth that jarring hits are “a badge of courage which does not seriously threaten one’s health.”

The NFL consistently has denied allegations similar to those in the lawsuit.

“I think it’s important for everyone to know that Junior did indeed suffer from CTE,” Gina Seau, who was married to Seau for 11 years, told “Good Morning America” on Jan. 10.  “It’s important that we take steps to help these players. We certainly don’t want to see anything like this happen again to any of our athletes.”

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.


Seau’s brain showed signs of CTE

Junior Seau dies, an apparent suicide

Seau: “The game needs to change”


Player reaction to Seau’s death

From the archives: The ’94 Chargers’ Tragic Toll

Seau’s 2010 auto accident

Gallery: Seau’s life in photos

​Gallery: Eight members of 1994 Chargers Super Bowl team have died before age of 45

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.



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Cindy Boren · January 23, 2013

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