One of football’s greatest tragedies was the loss of Junior Seau, one of the greatest football players in the history of the NFL.
Junior Seau played for the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. Seau suffered numerous blows to the head during his career. He later developed dementia and other health issues, and at the age of 43, Seau committed suicide.
After his tragic death, three top neuro-pathologists in the United States separately examined Seau’s brain, and without knowing whose brain it was, came to the unanimous conclusion that he had suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a degenerative brain disease that is found in football players, and others who in their lifetime, experienced continual impact to the head. CTE has been found to cause depression, erratic behavior, memory loss, impaired judgment, aggression and, eventually, progressive dementia. Tragically, there have been numerous reports of suicide among those affected by CTE.
The National Football League had historically denied any claims that head injuries which occur in football could lead to long-term health problems.
The medical report on Junior Seau was the final push to blow the lid off the NFL’s well-kept secret and rocked the world of football from high school to the major leagues.
It was found that the NFL had been aware of the risks for many years but had chosen to cover them rather than protect their players. Seau’s heirs alleged the NFL knew for decades about the risks of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) but actively concealed the information.
Several injured parties came together, and the case was consolidated with In re: National Football League Players Concussion Injury Litigation, 12-md-2323 (E.D. Penn., filed Jan. 31, 2012). Seau’s heirs opted out of the proposed class action settlement and David S. Casey, Jr. represented the Seau family in a separate case which settled in 2018 for a confidential amount.
David S. Casey, Jr. won the Witkin Award in 2018 in part for legal education and civic movement, which for Casey, Jr. refers to his work raising awareness about football injuries, concussion safety and the growing controversy over brain damage in sports.