|One of Seau's teammates has claimed that Seau could have suffered 1,500 concussions during his career. (Getty)|
While the number of concussions former NFL star linebacker Junior Seau might have suffered before he shot himself in the chest Wednesday hasn't been documented, one of his former teammates can hazard a guest. And it's a stunning number.
Former linebacker Gary Plummer -- who played with Seau for four seasons in San Diego and later suited up for the 49ers -- made the claim that Seau suffered more than 1,500 concussions during his 20-year career.
In a word: wow.
"In the 1990s, I did a concussion seminar. They said a Grade 3 concussion meant you were knocked out, and a Grade 1 meant you were seeing stars after a hit, which made me burst out in laughter,” Plummer told the San Jose Mercury News. “As a middle linebacker in the NFL, if you don't have five of these (Grade 1 effects) each game, you were inactive the next game.
"Junior played for 20 years. That's five concussions a game, easily. How many in his career then? That's over 1,500 concussions. I know that's startling, but I know it's true. I had over 1,000 in my 15 years. I felt the effects of it. I felt depression going on throughout my divorce. Junior went through it with his divorce.”
While that's hard to believe – and it should be noted that Plummer is not a doctor and is not considered a concussion expert of any kind – that thought process could be why more than 1,500 former players are in the process of suing the NFL based on league safety. It also should be noted that Seau played 268 games in his career, so by Plummer's math, that would equal 1,340 concussions.
Either way, what's the solution?
"What needs to happen is mandatory counseling,” Plummer said. “In 15 years as a middle linebacker, I never would have thought of seeing a counselor. I saw one in my divorce, and I just called my counselor today. It can't be optional, because macho players are taught to be invincible, and they're not going to do it. Make it mandatory.
"When we're forced out, try to give us tools (for) what we're going to face. I've talked to former teammates who've struggled mightily. Not just within a year of being out but several years. One guy felt he was wandering aimlessly.
"It needs to come to light that this was not an isolated incident."
All that's well and good, but it seems clear that many current players aren't thinking of that route. For instance, Bernard Pollard, who intimated Friday that he wasn't concerned about potential bounty programs (though he did say he doesn't want his son playing football because of the risk of concussions).
But now that the Seau family has given its permission for researchers to study Seau's brain, we likely will get a few answers on the extent of the damage that playing football might have caused.
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