Junior Seau, the former NFL great, died early today of an apparent suicide, a bullet to the chest, at forty-three. If today is an average day, another one hundred Americans will have killed themselves before midnight. Their names will not make nearly as much news.
Seau’s death, not incorrectly, will become another in a long string of indictments against football. There are patterns here, of players coming out of the NFL damaged beyond repair, many with broken brains, and with an unacceptable—what a strange word to use when talking about young corpses, implying that some amount is acceptable—percentage of them dying prematurely. The inevitable autopsy reports—both the actual ones, and the countless dissections you’ll read in the coming days and weeks—will find both biological and psychological causes of death. Some of the players will die because 350-pound men routinely die from the load they carry; some of them will die because of concussions and concussion-related symptoms; some of them will die because, like Seau, they decide that death is a better alternative to life. And some of them, many of them, will die because of a combination of those factors, x + y. We know this to be true. These are mathematical facts.
Because Seau apparently shot himself in the chest, his death will be inevitably compared to Dave Duerson’s, the former Chicago Bear who also shot himself in the chest last year, better to preserve his brain for science and lawsuits. There is no doubt that over h...