Jose A. Rodriguez Jr. is a 31-year veteran of the CIA and the author of “Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives.”
Dr. William Focazio is the founder of Pain Alternatives, Solutions and Treatment, a group that treats retired NFL players and other former athletes. Focazio and his people do not only provide free medical testing and care, because they run into so many ex-athletes who are destitute, they are even likely to pay for travel and lodging when the athletes fly in to see them from out of town.
“Given the style that Seau played,” Focazio said Wednesday, “I’m sure he had head problems. We know that repeated hits lead to depression.”
And then Focazio said, “Nobody wants to give up their lives to play (football), but that is basically what they are being offered.”
Seau played with the Chargers until 2003, played with the Dolphins after that and finished up with the New England Patriots. The stats on him were easy to find after it came out that he was dead by his own hand on Wednesday, that he had 1,526 tackles in his career, and had 561/2 sacks and even intercepted 18 passes.
And there were less glittering parts of his resume, an arrest once because of an investigation into domestic violence against a girlfriend with whom he was sharing a home in Oceanside, the woman saying that Seau had assaulted her during an argument. A few hours after that, he went down a seaside cliff in an SUV and survived.
This was less than two years ago, and maybe the post-playing life of Junior Seau was starting down a cliff at the same time.
Finally it played out on Wednesday the way it did, the body of the greatest San Diego Charger of them all found with a gun beside him, that body finally loaded into a medical examiner’s van and taken away. The news stories out of Oceanside said that fans took pictures as the van pulled away.
This was the dark ending to such a bright, loud, colorful career, for the football player known as “Say Ow.” An ex-Falcon named Ray Easterling killed himself on April 19. So that is two suicides in two weeks for ex-NFL players. It feels like an epidemic. Maybe we will never get an answer about why it was Junior Seau this time. Or maybe we don’t have to get hit upside the head to know the answer already.