12-time Pro Bowl linebacker and retired 20 year NFL star Junior Seau was found dead on Thursday. This appears to be another suicide related to head injuries in football, since the gunshot wound was to Seau’s chest. The suicide note apparently asked for Seau’s brain to be donated for medical research to investigate the damage football does to players’ brains.
4 Saints Defenders Suspended
Four current or former New Orleans Saints players were suspended on Thursday, bringing to an end announcements by the NFL Front Office on new suspensions stemming from the bounty scandal. The players suspended included Jonathan Vilma, Scott Shanle, Will Smith, and Anthony Hargrove. The two linebackers remain with the Saints, while the other two are playing in Cleveland and Green Bay these days.
- Jonathan Vilma – MLB, New Orleans Saints (Defensive Captain) – Suspended for a Year
- Anthony Hargrove – DT, Green Bay Packers – Suspended for 8 Games
- Will Smith – DE, New Orleans Saints – Suspended for 4 Games
- Scott Fujita – LB, Cleveland Browns – Suspended for 3 Games
- Sean Payton – Head Coach, New Orleans Saints – Suspended for a Year
- Mickey Loomis – General Manager, New Orleans Saints – Suspended for 8 Games
- Joe Vitt – Assistant Head Coach, New Orleans Saints – Suspended for 6 Games
- Greg Williams – Defensive Coordinator, St. Louis Rams – Suspended Indefinitely
I saw a discussion on the NFL Network tonight about how this affects the Saints chances of getting double-digit wins next year. My snap judgment is not as much as you’d think, so long as Drew Brees gets signed and stays healthy next year. Jonathan Vilma and Scott Shanle have been team leaders these past few years, so they’ll be loses, no doubt. But the Saints have signed Curtis Lofton from the Falcons and David Hawthorne from the Seahawks to replace those losses. Curtis Lofton was the middle linebacker on a playoff team last year. He’s been a starter his entire career and is coming into his prime years. At this point of Vilma’s career, Curtis Lofton might be an upgrade.
The defense is going to lose leadership, because all three players are defensive leaders. It’s no coincidence they were the ringleaders, as well. On the field, Will Smith is the biggest loss, because he’s the team’s best pass rusher. In this era of the NFL, losing your best pass rusher can be a killer.
I hate when sports and the real world intersect. That’s why I’m always cold to discussions of “overpaid athletes”. My father won’t watch sports for that very reason. It’s always occurred to me that sports aren’t ruined by the money if you don’t worry about that stuff. Not watching because of overpaid athletes seems like an excuse. Just tell me you don’t enjoy sports and leave it at that. We all know athlete get paid insane amounts, so you’re not making much of a point. For one thing, football players trade their health for the money they make, so NFL players I put in a whole different category.
I get what I get from football and it’s good for me, but only if we don’t have too many days like this one, where a Hall of Fame player commits suicide and points a finger at the sport and four players get suspended–one for a year. It’s hard to be a fan of a sport when you start to think players are getting seriously hurt. It’s kind of turns into bloodsport, which isn’t my thing.
Sports is Cathartic
The reason we watch the National Football League and other sports is entertainment, escapism, and a little catharsis. People who don’t understand why people get worked up over sports are missing something basic–sports fans get emotional release from their fandom.
The term is defined as “the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions“.
Its origin is from Greek drama, as it was suggested by Aristotle the audience gained catharsis from seeing these awful things happen to people in tragedies. Modern psychologists used the term for various emotional processes. But catharsis is what happens when you place all these emotions on the outcome of a game or event involving people you don’t know. Win or lose, you release all these pent-up emotions and it’s healthy for you. Sure, men should probably find healthier modes of emoting and purging, but it’s better than nothing.
Anyway, I’m saddened by the news that Junior Seau took his own life. Who can say what was going through his mind in his last hours. Nobody knows the body pain he dealt with on a day-by-day basis. Seau may have been suffering depression, dementia, or something else. I hope the doctors can figure out what happened here, and what’s happening in a wider sense with former players. I hope to know the answers and I hope the answers lead to remedies so this doesn’t happen again. Then I hope to get back to the escapism.