FOXBORO -- According to a National Institutes of Health study released on Thursday, Junior Seau suffered from a degenerative brain disease often associated with repeated blows to the head. He committed suicide in May, dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and his family had requested an analysis of his brain.
Seau's brain revealed abnormalities consistent with chronic traumatic encephlopathy (CTE), which his family believes caused his mood swings, forgetfulness and depression before his death.
News of the report reached Seau's former team in New England on Thursday afternoon. Guard Logan Mankins, safety Devin McCourty and receiver Brandon Lloyd, who spoke to assembled reporters on Thursday, were all told about the study and given an opportunity to react.
Mankins admitted that it was worrisome to hear that head trauma may have in some way contributed to Seau's death.
"I'd say it's worrisome probably if you sit down and really think about it," Mankins said. "But it's the playoffs right now so that's the least of our concerns now. You could probably say we're meat-headed and ignorant not to think about it, but maybe in February, after the season, we can think about it."
McCourty expressed concern as well, though, like Mankins, preferred to focus on New England's upcoming Divisional Round playoff game with the Texans.
"I think just hearing that is definitely sad," McCourty said. "But right now we're not really thinking about that. We're going into a playoff game, and for me, that's where all my focus is. It's definitely sad to hear that, but just all the focus right now is playing this game against Houston."
When asked what he might advise a youngster who is thinking about playing football, McCourty said: "I don't know. I don't think I got much advice about that so I wouldn't really know what to do or what to say, really."
Lloyd declined to discuss the report.
Seau, who was 43, played 20 seasons at linebacker in the NFL, including three seasons with the Patriots before retiring in 2009.