Recently the Pro Football Hall of Fame have come under heavy criticism because the daughter of the late Junior Seau, Sydney will not be allowed to speak at the HOF enshrinement ceremony on August 8 in Canton, where he will be posthumously inducted.
Seau died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest at age 43 on May 2, 2012. It was later determined that he suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Many feel that Seau’s family’s pending lawsuit against the National Football League (NFL) had a lot to do with this decision by the HOF. Please refer to the above link to view information about this lawsuit.
CTE is a degenerative condition many scientists believe is caused by head trauma. It’s caused by a buildup of tau, an abnormal protein that strangles brain cells. Brain cells generally cannot repair themselves and only in an autopsy can CTE be diagnosed. Repeated concussions may increase a person’s risk later in life to CTE and mental health issues such as dementia, parkinson’s disease and depression.
“The policy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame since 2010 regarding individuals enshrined posthumously provides for an expanded presenting video followed by the traditional unveiling of the bronzed bust and no additional comments made from the podium,” the HOF said in a statement issued late last Friday.
The policy changes went virtually unnoticed in 2011 when former Los Angeles Rams great, Les Richter was posthumously inducted. Many weren’t even familiar with Richter because he was inducted 50 plus years after his playing days were over. He died on June 12, 2010 at the age of 79.
Although the NFL and the Pro Football HOF are two different organizations, it wouldn’t be in the Hall’s best interest to leave the NFL in vulnerable positions at the podium during enshrinement ceremonies.
After the death of former Pittsburgh Steelers great, Mike Webster in 2002, CTE was discovered in his brain by Forensic Neuropathologist, Dr. Bennet I. Omalu. He also examined tissue from 8 other former NFL players and discovered all of them showed brain damage consistent with person’s suffering from alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The NFL paid very little attention to these findings until the death of former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry at age 26 in 2009. Neuropathology test also revealed that he suffered from CTE.
I personally don’t think it was just a coincidence that the HOF decided to implement a new policy for posthumously inducted players within one year after Henry’s death. (2010)
In my opinion, it would’ve been very easy for the NFL to request help from some contacts over at the Pro Football HOF. I’m sure they felt the need to minimize the risks of allowing a sympathetic platform to family members/presenters for posthumously inducted players that suffered from football related brain diseases.
I realize that the NFL couldn’t foresee the suicides of former players, Dave Duerson (2011) and Junior Seau (2012) but I’m certain that their own group of medical experts warned them of the possibilities of future tragic events such as suicides involving current and former players.
The policy changes by the HOF will prevent family members like Sydney Seau and future presenters from becoming voices for the voiceless during enshrinements. It's much easier to edit a video than real time footage. Junior Seau played 20 seasons in the NFL and was very well respected within the league. So what would it HURT to allow a short speech by his daughter in honor of his memory? I guess it would just be another reminder of their already tarnished past.
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