Former Lowcountry NFL star says there is a definite problem
By Dean Stephens
MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- He was one of the all-time greats to ever play the game. But on May 3rd 2012, former Charger, Dolphin and Patriot Junior Seau did the unthinkable.
He took his own life.
Former Detroit Lion and Lowcountry native Robert Porcher couldn't believe the news.
"I was surprised and very disappointed, knowing him a little bit. He was a great guy off the field and a great player. It's just very unfortunate that he's no longer with us," Porcher said.
Seau wasn't the first NFL player to take his own life over the past few years.
Former Falcon Ray Easterling took his own life on April 19th. The 62-year-old filed a lawsuit last August against the NFL, accusing the league of mishandling concussion-related injuries.
Former Chicago Bears DB Dave Duerson and former Eagle Andre Waters also committed suicide. Both players had suffered numerous concussions in their careers. Duerson donated his brain for research and experts at Boston University said last week that Duerson suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalophy. Researchers at BU found 20 other deceased NFL players suffered the same disease.
"I think it's definitely a problem that's been around for a while, and we're starting to hear more about it because of the players who suffer from it being more vocal about it. I don't know if that's the case here with Junior, but we've been in the forefront as of late because we've had a lot of deaths lately with players as a result of it. It is a problem. It's a definite problem," Porcher said.
Robert Porcher was drafted by the Lions in 1992 and played 12 years in the league. He said he never suffered a concussion, but some of his closest friends did. He said they are now feeling the effects years later.
"It doesn't scare me, but I have some former teammates and very close friends who are suffering from early stages of dementia. It's scary considering how young they are 41, 42, but they had a lot of concussions when they played. They are retired, but they are still very young men. They are not well. So, it is scary to think that you have guys to have done what they've done and now in the early stages of their life, when they should be enjoying their life, that they may one day decide to take their life and it's because of concussions. That is scary. That is scary," Porcher said.
The head injury issue is an issue that the NFL will be dealing with for sometime. About 1,600 former players are suing the league. Robert Porcher is not one of them, but he hopes players who are suffering can find the strength to reach out for help.