Medical analysis of Junior Seau's brain showed abnormalities associated with degenerative brain disease, and findings were similar to autopsies of people exposed to "repetitive head injury."
The report from the National Institutes of Health on Thursday wasn't unexpected. Seau played 20 NFL seasons, retired in 2009 and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his California home in May.
Seau was regarded as one of the best linebackers in NFL history and is in the Hall of Fame.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is only diagnosed my examination of brain tissue under a microscope after death.
The National Institutes of Health in Maryland conducted the study, analyzing three unidentified brains. One of them was Seau's, and his family was recently informed of the results. Boston University reported in December that 43 players, including nine college football players, studied were found to have suffered from CTE.
Gina Seau, the former wife of junior Seau, and his 23-year-old son, Tyler, discussed the findings on "Good Morning America" and said researchers at NIH cited "a lot of head-to-head collisions over the course of playing in the NFL. And that it gradually, you know, developed the deterioration of his brain and his ability to think logically."
Gina Seau, responding to a direct question about the NFL's slow response to head trauma and the correlated issues therein, said the league was "too slow for us, yeah."
The league responded with a statement that read, in part, "Junior Seau was a leader on and off the field and the player community continues to mourn his loss. The report today about Junior having chronic traumatic encephalopathy is tragic. We know that research and partnerships will be an important factor in improving player care and safety, which is why we set aside $100M of player funds for medical research during the term of this collective bargaining agreement.
"We also know that accountability and credibility are equally important measures in the overall commitment to player safety. The only way we can improve the safety of players, restore the confidence of our fans and secure the future of our game is to insist on the same quality of medical care, informed consent and ethical standards that we expect for ourselves and for our family members."
In recent years, two other former NFL players, defensive backs Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling, committed suicide and were later found to have CTE. Their families said both men suffered with dementia and depression.