UPDATE: The SD coroner officially ruled it a suicide on Thursday.
The legendary linebacker with the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots was found dead in his California home on Wednesday morning. Law enforcement officials said that Seau died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.
Seau may have hoped to preserve his brain for studies on the effects of repeated concussions. Former NFL star Dave Duerson, who committed suicide in 2011, requested the procedure in a suicide note. “He wanted his brain donated to a research center because he believed the blows he took to the head during his football career caused him to become mentally impaired,” writes TMZ.
Police are still investigating. TMZ reports Seau sent text messages to his ex-wife and three kids yesterday saying, “Love you,” but family members didn’t notice signs of depression in recent weeks.
Seau was a 10-time All-Pro, 12-time Pro Bowl selection and a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. In 2010, following an alleged domestic violence arrest, Seau drove his car off a cliff in Carlsbad, California. Seau said he had fallen asleep behind the wheel.
The San Diego Chargers released a statement that reads, “Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now. … We ask everyone to stop what they’re doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family.”
Seau is, bizarrely, the eighth member of the 1994 San Diego Chargers Super Bowl team to die — all before the age of 45. The others:
1. David Griggs, car crash
2. Rodney Culver, plane crash
3. Doug Miller, struck by lightning — twice.
4. Curtis Whitley, overdose
5. Chris Mims, heart failure
6. Shawn Lee, cardiac arrest
7. Lew Bush, heart attack
USC has released a video to pay tribute to its star linebacker of yore:
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