It was reported that Junior Seau killed himself Wednesday the same way Dave Duerson committed suicide 15 months ago.
They both shot themselves in the chest.
Duerson, the former Chicago Bears all-pro safety, was clear with his method and intent. He left notes and text messages indicating he wanted his brain donated to Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.
Traumatic encephalopathy is the fancy term for dementia caused by the blows football players take to the head.
Duerson was 50 years when he died. His autopsy confirmed that his brain had been damaged and diseased from concussions.
Seau, 43, did not leave a note as Duerson had carefully done. There probably was no need where the cause of the popular linebacker's afflictions were concerned. It seems that the same neurosurgeon who studied Duerson's brain might have seen a similar form of mental illness in Seau before Seau killed himself in a way that would preserve his own brain.
Two years ago, Seau was arrested for domestic violence and then drove his car off a cliff after he was released from jail. In an interview with the Buffalo News, neurosurgeon Robert Cantu wondered if Seau was suffering from the same disease that caused Duerson to shoot himself.
Just last month, Ray Easterling, a 62-year-old former Atlanta Falcons safety, killed himself after a lifetime of depression. Easterling was suing the NFL on claims it had covered up links between football collisions and brain injuries.
The brains of other football players have tested positive for dementia after their deaths.
Our question should be:
When is this going to stop?
Duerson's suicide -- which followed abrupt personality changes that caused a gentle man to push his wife against a hotel wall -- happened a few months before the NFL lockout was settled.
One of the negotiating points was player safety as it applied to blows to the head. But it was so far down the list behind how a big pile of money was to be divided between owners and players that no one paid much attention to the possible correlation between concussions and mental illness.
The NFL made some changes, but it left players with the choice between hitting an opponent high or low. High means a player might miss a few games with a concussion. Low means a career might be ended with a knee injury.
But too many blows to the head?
It's true, as Cantu said. All irrational behavior can't be blamed on football-related head trauma. But it can't be ruled out, either.
What we have with Duerson and Seau, two of the most popular NFL players in recent times, points toward a very disturbing trend.
A few years ago, Seau talked to Sports Illustrated about the need to limit head trauma as much as possible in the NFL. He talked about fathers not being able to remember their children's names. Seau said if the game doesn't change, "more players, more great players (are going to be affected) by things that we know of and aren't changing. That's not right."
Tomahawk's own Mike Webster, the Hall of Fame Steelers center, wandered homeless between Wisconsin and Pittsburgh while suffering from amnesia, dementia and depression. He died in 2002 at age 50.
Webster's family had to sue the NFL to receive disability benefits.
But this isn't all on the NFL. Yes, it needs to be doing so much more to protect its workforce.
Meanwhile, teams take violence to unprofessional and obscene levels by issuing bounties. And the NFL came down too hard on the Saints? Really?
Bottom line, it is a ruthlessly violent game. Players are taught from an early age that pulling up from collision could cause greater injury. Players who flinch from collision do not keep their jobs in a profession that does not offer guaranteed contracts.
More basic than that, it is a wildly popular spectator sport for which fans pay large sums of money to watch spectacularly gifted athletes collide with stunning ferocity. Meanwhile, no one seems to notice that linemen like Webster take seemingly routine blows to the head, play after play, year after year.
While being entertained, nobody takes time to think that a few years down the road, a couple of their heroes might shoot themselves in the chest so that their brains could be studied.
Maybe we should think more about this vicious cycle to which everyone interested in pro football contributes.