On May 2, 2013, Junior Seau, a former National Football League (NFL) linebacker for the San Diego Chargers, lay dead on his bedroom floor after suffering a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The news of the 43-year-old's death would not only rock the nation, but stun those who knew him best. In the past, Seau had admitted to an ESPN analyst and former neighbor, Taylor Twellman, that he had dealt with long-term side effects associated with concussions such as headaches. Though never being listed on any injury report with a head ailment, Seau played in a time where "succumbing to an injury " was considered weak. Therefore, it is certainly possible that the 6'3 ", 250-pound linebacker may have suffered various types of head traumas including concussions. There is speculation that he may have had a condition called "chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain condition associated with repeated head trauma. " Junior's is not the only tragic case thought to have been linked to head trauma. Several hundred players are coming forward with claims of such injuries affecting not only their career but their lives after football as well (Trotter 38-46). The trauma from sustaining multiple head injuries has the potential to cause both severe short and long term effects, and has become a major problem in the NFL.
To understand why head injuries in the NFL is such a big deal, it is helpful to understand some of the effects that concussions and head injuries can have. A concussion is defined as "a brain injury caused by blunt head trauma " (Pluta, Ryszard, and Golub 114). Some of the common causes of concussions are accidents involving vehicles, sports injuries, and even some genetic traits. According to Pluta, some of the short term side effects of concussions include headaches, nausea and vomiting, and difficulty with concentration and learning. Additionally, Pluta states an individual suffering from a concussion may expect to experience altered memory before, during, or after the injury, and an inability to speak or communicate effectively.