After an amazing day of playoff football yesterday, the NFL has never been more popular. But the drama on the field has been competing with stories surrounding player safety, and following recent stories about RG3 suffering a brutal knee injury, test results showing that Junior Seau suffered from brain damage and Bernie Kosar explaining how he’s being treated for the aftereffects of concussions, we now have an explosive profile of Jason Taylor by Dan Le Batard that will surely shake up the already hot player safety debate.
Basically, with this story, Jason Taylor will become the poster child for the crazy NFL player who will do almost anything, take any pain medication, have any procedure, to get back onto the football field. Of course the NFL teams, coaches and doctors are often willing accomplices, and they contribute to this warrior culture. But this mindset is deeply rooted in the players themselves. It’s taught from an early age, but in many ways it’s just an example of how many people are wired in general. The bonds created by team sports have roots in our tribal nature, and many players willingly assume the risk of playing football, and Jason Taylor said he would do it all again, despite how crazy that might sound.
You have to read the article to get an appreciation for how far Taylor was willing to go. The scenes of him getting excruciating shots in his feet will shock many of you. With the backdrop of the concussion lawsuits against the NFL, this and similar stories will be cited often in the upcoming debate.
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)
“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.
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.
What more can you say about Junior Seau that you can’t by listing his accomplishments? In his 19-year career, Seau was a seven-time first-team All-Pro, a 12-time Pro Bowler, the 1992 NEA NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and the 1992 UPI AFC Defensive Player of the Year. He’s amassed 1,826 tackles, 56.5 sacks and 18 interceptions over his career. He was also part of two Super Bowls, including the 16-0 New England Patriots squad.
Recently, Junior teamed up with Combos to help them roll out their “Tackle Life” contest, which encourages people to finish projects that they’ve put on the backburner throughout the years. Head to www.COMBOS.com and in 10-100 words, describe a project you have always wanted to do and how $5,000 will help you do it. The contest is running from September 14 to October 31 and the grand prize is the $5,000 to help you cross that project off your to-do list.
We were fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with Junior to talk about the contest, how he got involved and what project he’s currently had on the backburner. We also couldn’t let him get off the phone without answering some football related questions, which he was more than happy to do. He filled us in on which running back was the toughest to tackle, what current player he would pay the price of admission to watch play every week and what its like to play in Bill Belichick’s defensive scheme.
Junior Seau: Anthony!
The Scores Report: Hey Junior, how are you, man?
JS: What’s happening, brother?
TSR: We really appreciate your sitting down and talking with us today – it’s an honor.
JS: No worries, no worries – let’s do it.
TSR: Talk to me about this Combos “Tackle Life” contest that you’re partaking in.
JS: Yeah, we’re pairing up with Combos’ “Tackle Life” contest and what we’re doing is trying to encourage everyone to get all of those daily duties out of the way. Pick one, visit Combos.com and submit 10 to 100 words on this dream project, which could be anything. It could be building a deck, or painting your house, or building a shed. Whatever it may be that you’ve been putting on the backburner, we’re asking you to write about it and you have a chance to win $5,000 through this program “Tackle Life.”