More than just concussions caused the death of Junior Seau

NFL great Junior Seau committed suicide on May 3, and the news shocked everyone.

The family and many analysts think a large number of concussions helped lead to his death, and they want to perform an autopsy to see what they can learn.

While they’ll find evidence of numerous concussions, I don’t think that’s the cause.

Instead, I think Junior Seau faced the end of his career. And that has to be one of the most crushing things any NFL star can face.

What do you do when you’re no longer a superstar earning millions each year? When you have no chance of staging a comeback and have no idea what to do with your life next? (Yeah, some launch businesses, but most have no idea how to run them and this just further propels their race toward poverty and irrelevance.)

I’m not sure how I would cope with that, but I’m pretty sure I’d fail miserably at tackling it. I’m just 34, but I often panic at the thought of where I’m at in my life. Just one book done? I’m — conservatively speaking — halfway to the end, so every day of late I’ve been thinking: how many books do I want finished by the time I’m 70? What else do I want to have achieved?

I love writing. It’s what I live for. But how would I deal with the fact that I was too old to write any more? That I’d either been cut or forced into retirement? And at the age of 43, at that? (This was how old Junior Seau was.)

I think I know the answer to that question. How would I deal with it? It wouldn’t be pretty.

Let’s allow this tragic story of Junior Seau to serve as a reminder to us all. Life is hard, whether you’re an NFL superstar or just a poor person working two jobs to pay your rent.

Share some love today. Smile at a stranger. Check in on someone who needs it. You just don’t know who may be at the end of their strength, no matter how strong they are.

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

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