Junior Seau, one of the NFL’s best and fiercest players for nearly two decades, had a degenerative brain disease when he committed suicide last May, the National Institutes of Health said Thursday.
Results of an NIH study of Seau’s brain revealed abnormalities consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE.
“The brain was independently evaluated by multiple experts, in a blind fashion,” said Dr. Russell Lonser, who oversaw the study. “We had the opportunity to get multiple experts involved in a way they wouldn’t be able to directly identify his tissue even if they knew he was one of the individuals studied.”
The NIH, based in Bethesda, Md., conducted a study of three unidentified brains, one of which was Seau’s.
It said the findings on Seau were similar to autopsies of people “with exposure to repetitive head injuries.”
Seau’s family requested the analysis of his brain.
Seau was a star linebacker for 20 NFL seasons with San Diego, Miami and New England before retiring in 2009. He died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound.