(CNN) – Nearly eight months after he committed suicide, it has come out that former NFL linebacker Junior Seau suffered from a brain disease known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
Seau’s ex-wife, Gina, and son, Tyler, broke the news about Seau’s condition in an interview with ABC News and ESPN.
“I think it’s important for everyone to know that Junior did indeed suffer from CTE. It’s important that we take steps to help these players. We certainly don’t want to see anything like this happen again to any of our athletes.”
According to the ESPN report from Mark Fainaru-Wada, Jim Avila and Steve Fainaru, CTE is a “progressive disease associated with repeated head trauma.” It has only recently been discovered to affect football players who take repeated blows to the head during their career.
Shortly after this report was released, the NFL issued a statement on the findings, saying its teams have committed $30 million in grant money to the National Institutes of Health.
“The NFL, both directly and in partnership with the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and other leading organizations, is committed to supporting a wide range of independent medical and scientific research that will both address CTE and promote the long-term health and safety of athletes at all levels.”
Seau was one of the premier linebackers in the NFL. He played 20 seasons with three teams, most notably the San Diego Chargers from 1990-2002, gaining a reputation for being one of the most intense and intimidating players in the sport.
Last May, Seau died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. David Leon Moore and Erik Brady of USA Today reported that for several years before his suicide, Seau was unable to sleep and would take “powerful sleep aids.”
In December, the Department of Health and Human Services came to the conclusion that, after studying Seau’s brain, he was suffering from CTE.
The ESPN report says that three other independent neurologists who studied Seau’s brain and did not work at National Institutes of Health, where his brain was researched, all arrived at the same diagnosis of CTE.