Brain tissue belonging to NFL linebacker and former USC star Junior Seau, who shot himself in June, has been sent to the National Institutes of Health for examination, the San Diego County medical examiner announced Thursday.
Seau’s family requested that the tissue be released to study the effects of collisions among football players.
"We have no information about the type of study that will be done," coroner’s spokeswoman Sarah Gordon told the Associated Press.
The former All-Pro, died May 2 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He was 43. He had finished his playing career 2 ½ years earlier.
Following his death, questions were raised as to whether or not damage sustained from his football career contributed to his suicide.
So far, no correlation has been found between his death and his playing career.
A final autopsy report and the results of drug-screening tests are still pending.
Seau’s death has striking similarities to that of former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest last year. Duerson left a suicide note, asking that his brain be study for signs of trauma.
Researchers from Boston University found that Duerson suffered from a neurodegenerative disease linked to concussions that contributed to his depression.
Duerson’s family filed a lawsuit against the NFL, alleging that brain damage from his playing days contributed to his suicide.
Recently, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of more than 2,000 former NFL players that accused the league of ignoring evidence that repeated head injuries leads to long-term damage.
Seau was named to 12 Pro Bowls and six All-Pro teams. He helped lead the San Diego Chargers to the Super Bowl in 1995.
Seau played three years at USC, leading the team to a Rose Bowl win in 1990. His number, 55, is considered to be an honor for any Trojan to wear and only a select few linebackers are allowed to join the “55 club.”