Knowing the risks

During his 20-year professional football career, Junior Seau was a terror to opposing ball carriers. He was known as one of the most feared linebackers in the league on the field, and one of the NFL’s most charismatic players off it.
Feb 4, 2013


But following his career, Seau’s life rapidly went downhill.

He committed suicide a year ago at the age of 43. An autopsy found that Seau suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE — the same debilitating brain disease diagnosed in two other former NFL players who also committed suicide.

In response, Seau’s family has filed a lawsuit against the NFL and several football helmet makers — claiming fraud, negligence and wrongful death.

Here’s the problem: Seau knew what he was getting himself into, just like every other football player out there today.

The family claims that the NFL withheld information regarding the severity of concussions and the long-reaching effects concussions can have. That may be true, but guess what? It goes both ways.

Everyone who plays in the NFL knows the risks. They understand that they’re getting involved in a violent game, a game in which injuries are all too common.

Seau’s family thinks the NFL should have done more to protect players. That becomes difficult when players — who are so passionate about the game, and so determined to get on the field each and every Sunday — lie about their injuries. They hide the truth from their coaches and trainers — because, above all, they want to play.

Besides, the information that the Seau family and the hundreds of other players who have joined forces in a class-action lawsuit against the NFL say was being hidden is now out in the open.

So why are people still playing football? Those suing the league make it sound as if they’d have stopped playing the game the moment they learned of the long-term risks involved.

But on Sunday, the 49ers and the Ravens still lined up across from each other in New Orleans and battled it out for the right to be called Super Bowl champions.

That’s because these grown men have accepted the risks. They know what’s at stake. And they’re still out there playing the game they love.

Was the NFL as forthcoming as it should have been about concussions? Probably not. But to prove the league’s negligence in court is an entirely different matter.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.


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