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Brandon Marshall opens up about Junior Seau’s death, depression

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall makes a catch over Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick during the first half of their NFL football game in Arlington, Texas November 24, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

In an op-ed for Sunday’s edition of the Chicago Sun-Times, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall discussed Junior Seau’s passing and the difficulty that NFL players have with depression.

“Looking at the situation with Seau and other cases with retired athletes, I think our focus should be more on why the transition seems to be so hard after football. As athletes, we go through life getting praised and worshipped and making a lot of money. Our worlds and everything in them — spouses, kids, family, religion and friends — revolve around us. We create a world where our sport is our life and makes us who we are. When the game is taken away from us or when we stop playing, the shock of not hearing the praise or receiving the big bucks often turns out to be devastating. The blueprint I am creating for myself will help not only other athletes, it will help suffering people all over.”

Marshall makes an excellent point. What happens when fans stop cheering their name? What happens when they’re not adored and admired? What happens when they stop getting everything handed to them in life?

That last question isn’t meant to be crass – it’s reality. Because of their gifted athletic abilities, players are privileged from a very young age. They’re used to people making them feel special and handing them opportunities. All of a sudden when that’s gone, what happens? Talk about a transition.

Marshall’s right – what happens when the lights finally go down? Many athletes only know one life and once that’s over, they often don’t know what to do. I talk to former athletes and a lot of them same thing: It’s jarring when their playing careers are over. Some know how to handle it, others don’t.

We can assume that Seau had mental troubles stemming from using his head as a battering ram for 20 seasons in the NFL. And if he had the same condition as Dave Duerson, then we’ll find out soon enough.

But maybe Marshall is right and concussions aren’t the only problem – they’re just part of a bigger, more frightening picture.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Twelve-time Pro Bowler Junior Seau found dead after committing suicide

New England Patriots linebacker Junior Seau celebrates sacking San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers in first quarter of the NFL’s AFC championship football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts in January 20, 2008 this file photo. According to reports, Seau was hospitalized October 18, 2010 for injuries sustained when the car he was driving crashed off a cliff in San Diego County, following his arrest earlier on suspicion of domestic violence. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/Files (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The North County Times reported on Wednesday that former Chargers, Dolphins and Patriots linebacker Junior Seau passed away after a self-inflicted gunshot to the chest. Seau was 43 years old.

There have been conflicting reports about who found Seau’s body at his Oceanside, California home. Some media outlets have stated that it was his housekeeper that discovered his body, while others have reported that it was Seau’s girlfriend who eventually found him and called authorities. A handgun was found nearby and police have confirmed that Seau committed suicide.

Seau was drafted fifth overall in 1990 by the San Diego Chargers, whom he played with for 12 years before he was traded to the Miami Dolphins in April of 2003. He later signed with the New England Patriots for three years before leaving the game following the 2009 season.

During his 20 years in the NFL, Seau racked up 1,849 tackles, 56.5 sacks and 18 interceptions. He went to 12 Pro Bowls during his career and was named All-Pro 10 times. He was a part of two AFC Championship teams (1994 Chargers and 2007 Patriots) and was named AFC Player of the Year in 1994. He’s a member of the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame and was named NEA NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992.

Just over one year ago, former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson committed suicide in the same fashion as Seau. Three months later researcher neurologists at Boston University confirmed that Duerson suffered from a neurodegenerative disease linked to concussions.

Renowned for his hard hits and raw energy, Seau was easily one of the best outside linebackers to have ever played the game.

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