Jansing and Co | May 03, 2012
>>> the apparent suicide of nfl superstar junior seau is focusing attention on retired football players paying the ultimate price for the hard hits the game dishes out. seau is the third to commit suicide in the last year. his fans in southern california are stunned, his heart broken mother inconsolable.
>> i pray to god, please, take me, take me. leave my son, but it is too late.
>> i can't believe he's gone.
>> i was devastated. i couldn't believe he was dead.
>> i'm joined by dr. bales, chairman of the department at nor shore hospital system , he's on the committee of brain injuries and hall of fame new york giants linebacker harry carson . gentlemen, good morning.
>> harry, you said you're not shocked by this?
>> no, i'm not. this is something that i sort of saw years ago. i was diagnosed in 1990 , two years after i left and i started to learn about the condition. i learned a lot from the doctor by taking part in various seminars and so forth and began to learn about the situation.
>> what was happening to you?
>> i was losing my ability to articulate the language i wanted to use. the brain controls so many different things. i really wasn't aware of certain things. there were headaches i was having, blurred vision , bouts of depression and on and on and on. i had these situations during the course of my career, like in the early '80s, but really didn't manifest itself until after i left football when i started doing television. i'd be doing live television and lose my train of thought live on the air. so it gave mae reason to sort of question what's going on with me. it wasn't um i wept to my doctor and discussed it with him. he referred me to a specialist and i went through two days of testing and i was diagnosed with mild post concussive syndrome .
>> before we get to the statistics with junior seau , let me ask in general what does the research tell us, what do we know about football and other contact sports like this and concussions and things like depression and suicide?
>> well, we know they may be linked. we know it's not in every case, but we know there may be certain ones that are predisposed, maybe depending on the amount of exposure, hits they have had, and maybe not the known concussion but subconcussive blows make accrue and take a toll. there may be a genetic component. we're still in the evolution of our following.
>> the autopsy of junior seau is expected to be completed but his ex-wife did say he had suffered concussions during his career. is it possible 20 years of tough hits and tackles could have played a role here?
>> it could. he played 20 years in nfl , played several, probably three in college and high school before that. it's not necessarily just the nfl experience . it's everything that may accrue again with many, many factors we're still beginning to uncover more and more.
>> it's something i'm sure you talk about with other former players, isn't it? i'm wondering what the conversations are like?
>> we talk about it now, but during the time i played we didn't talk about it. we joked about it because we didn't know the significance of it. if we had looked ahead and looked at some of those players who played in the '50s and '60s and had seen those players with dementia and alzheimer's, it might have been really an opening for us to understand what our futures might be like. the whole condition with, you know, players committing suicide , that is when a player gets to a point where he feels like he's all alone. he's going through situations that no one else can identify with. but reality is, so many players go through the same thing. they have depression and so forth as a result of their transition from the game but also some neurological issues that they might deal with.
>> we talked about this coming into this, but just a couple weeks ago former atlanta falcons ray easterling shot and killed himself, a chicago bears star duerson took his life. both families suing over injuries. there are a lot of former players doing thc.l is there something else the nfl could be doing to protect their players?
>> i think they are doing a whole lot and i'm not sure what they could do. we're going to look at youth football, limit the number of hours and practice. i think the league has done an unprecedented amount of change in the last couple of years. so that's all good. we have to take it down to the lower levels of play, youth level. i think getting the head out of the game is one of our big objectives. i think that's got to occur.
>> what skeptics are saying, i've reported on this before, youth concussions, back in the conversation, critics are saying what's behind the nfl push to get stricter standards about youth concussions, stabbing a baseline, testing kids that take a hard hit, testing their products, they want to keep them healthy so the good ones are okay to play in the nfl . do you think that's taking it a step too far? is that fair?
>> i don't necessarily know if that's fair or not. there are a lot of great lessons you can learn from the game of football. football isn't for everyone. it is a contact and collision sport . you cannot eliminate concussions from the game. it is part of the game . and unfortunately when you have players, whether young players or guys that are 20 year veterans running around colliding into one another with the force they are doing it, you know, you're going to sustain concussions. the nfl is obviously going to stake a claim at some point to try and get more safety out there for the younger players because they would like younger players to continue to play. obviously the younger players flow up to the high school level and college level and then to the nfl level. so yes, they are looking out for their commodity, so to speak. but you know, the game us just just -- there's so much information coming out about the condition that it really is a firestorm for the public to see that the players they are rooting for might have lingering long-term effects years after the game.
>> for those of us, and there are so many who had so much pleasure over the years of watching you play.
>> thank you.
>> the thrills we got. you paid a price for it. we appreciate you coming out and talking about it and getting involved in it. do you, dr. julian bailes, thanks to you as well.