From Comcast SportsNetWhen he ended his life last year by shooting himself in the chest, Junior Seau had a degenerative brain disease often linked with repeated blows to the head.Researchers from the National Institutes of Health said Thursday the former NFL star's abnormalities are consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.The hard-hitting linebacker played for 20 NFL seasons with San Diego, Miami and New England before retiring in 2009. He died at age 43 of a self-inflicted gunshot in May, and his family requested the analysis of his brain."We saw changes in his behavior and things that didn't add up with him," his ex-wife, Gina, told The Associated Press. "But (CTE) was not something we considered or even were aware of. But pretty immediately (after the suicide) doctors were trying to get their hands on Junior's brain to examine it."The NIH, based in Bethesda, Md., studied three unidentified brains, one of which was Seau's, and said the findings on Seau were similar to autopsies of people "with exposure to repetitive head injuries.""It was important to us to get to the bottom of this, the truth," Gina Seau added, "and now that it has been conclusively determined from every expert that he had obviously had CTE, we just hope it is taken more seriously. You can't deny it exists, and it is hard to deny there is a link between head trauma and CTE. There's such strong evidence correlating head trauma and collisions and CTE."In the final years of his life, Seau had wild behavioral swings, according to Gina and to 23-year-old son, Tyler, along with signs of irrationality, forgetfulness, insomnia and depression."He emotionally detached himself and would kind of go away' for a little bit," Tyler Seau said. "And then the depression and things like that. It started to progressively get worse."He hid it well in public, they said, but not when he was with family or close friends.Seau joins a list of several dozen football players who were found to have CTE. Boston University's center for study of the disease reported last month that 34 former pro players and nine who played only college football suffered from CTE.The NFL faces lawsuits by thousands of former players who say the league withheld information on the harmful effects of concussions. According to an AP review of 175 lawsuits, 3,818 players have sued. At least 26 Hall of Famer members are among the players who have done so.The National Football League, in an email to the AP, said: "We appreciate the Seau family's cooperation with the National Institutes of Health. The finding underscores the recognized need for additional research to accelerate a fuller understanding of CTE."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."NFL teams have given a 30 million research grant to the NIH.The players' union called the NIH report on Seau "tragic.""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," the NFLPA said in a statement."This is why the players have asked for things like independent sideline concussion experts, the certification and credentialing of all professional football medical staff and a fairer workers compensation system in professional football," it said.Seau is not the first former NFL player who killed himself and later was found to have had CTE. Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling are the others.Before shooting himself, Duerson, a former Chicago Bears defensive back, left a note asking that his brain be studied for signs of trauma. His family filed a wrongful-death suit against the NFL, claiming the league didn't do enough to prevent or treat the concussions that severely damaged his brain.Easterling played safety for the Falcons in the 1970s. After his career, he suffered from dementia, depression and insomnia, according to his wife, Mary Ann. He committed suicide last April.Mary Ann Easterling is among the plaintiffs who have sued the NFL.Tyler Seau played football through high school and for two years in college. He says he has no symptoms of brain trauma."I was not surprised after learning a little about CTE that he had it," Tyler said. "He did play so many years at that level. I was more just kind of angry I didn't do something more and have the awareness to help him more, and now it is too late."Gina Seau's son Jake, now a high school junior, played football for two seasons but has switched to lacrosse and has been recruited to play at Duke."Lacrosse is really his sport and what he is passionate about," she said. "He is a good football player and probably could continue. But especially now watching what his dad went through, he says, Why would I risk lacrosse for football?'"I didn't have to have a discussion with him after we saw what Junior went through."Her 12-year-old son Hunter has shown no interest in playing football."That's fine with me," she said.
WALTHAM, Mass. -- When the phone rang this summer, Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas had to do a double-take when he saw the name on the caller ID.
It was Gerald Green, his ex-teammate in Phoenix.
Although they only shared a locker room for 45 games in Phoenix, the two became quick friends.
On the court they developed instant chemistry while coming off the Suns bench. And that bond spilled off the court as Green would later spend time with Thomas in the Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. area in the summer months.
They were cool with each other, cool enough to where Thomas knew it wasn’t in Green’s nature to pick up the phone and call just to say hi.
“Gerald doesn’t call anybody,” Thomas said. “When he called I knew something was up.”
Green said Boston, the team that drafted him in 2006 straight out of high school, was interested in bringing him back for a second stint with the club.
“I tried to put my two cents in and he got here,” Thomas said.
There were several factors that led Green back to Boston, with a chance to reunite with Thomas being high on that list.
Green, already in Phoenix at the time the Suns signed Thomas in 2014, was impressed with the way the 5-9 guard carried himself.
“He was a genuine guy, came in really humble,” Green said. “I saw the talent was there. I knew he had the potential to be one of the best point guards in this league.”
Thomas certainly made a case for such lofty praise with how he performed last season, good enough to earn his first all-star selection.
What really stuck out to Green was that Thomas’ mentality and approach to the game was almost a carbon copy of his own.
“When we stepped on the court we had the same mentality,” Green said. “By any means necessary, get a bucket and play harder than the next team; just try and push the first team, make the first team better every day.”
Thomas was coming off the bench, showing lots of potential and promise that he could carry a heavier load if given an opportunity to do so.
He averaged 15.2 points, 3.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 25.7 minutes off the Suns bench in 46 games. Even more significant was that when Thomas did play for the Suns, they were 26-20.
In the games without him, they were just 13-23.
Green was admittedly disappointed they traded away Thomas, believing that season would have had a very different outcome had they not sent him to Boston.
And just like Green recognized Thomas’ skills and how much his team could have benefited from keeping him around, Thomas speaks in glowing terms about Green and what his return to Boston means for the team.
“We needed someone like him; a guy that could shoot the ball, a guy that could space the floor; instant scorer whether he starts or comes off the bench,” Thomas said. “Where the he starts or come off the bench. He’s going to really help us.”
CINCINNATI -- For most of the game, A.J. Green piled up more yards than the entire Miami Dolphins offense in a virtuoso performance. As an encore, he thrilled the crowd by juggling some Florida citrus.
The Bengals receiver followed his disappointing game with a dominating one - 173 yards and a touchdown - and a Cincinnati defense that was inspired by Vontaze Burfict's return clamped down on the Dolphins for a 22-7 victory Thursday night.
The Bengals (2-2) rebounded from a 29-17 home loss to Denver on Sunday with a solid all-around game against a depleted team.
Green led the way, beating the Dolphins (1-3) on every type of route . He was upset with himself after he dropped a pivotal third-down pass and failed to make an impact against the Broncos.
"I hold myself to a very high standard," said Green, who had 10 catches. "I know what I'm capable of. Last week I didn't perform to that level. I had to refocus on a short week."
During the first three quarters, Green had 166 yards on catches while Miami had 152 total yards. The Bengals' season-long problem of stalling out near the goal line forced them to settle for Mike Nugent's season-high five field goals.
Afterward, Green and Andy Dalton appeared on the postgame show, and the receiver entertained the dozens of Bengals fans who stayed around by smoothly juggling three oranges at the interview desk.
"Any time he was one-on-one, he was able to make the play," Dalton said.
The Dolphins were missing four starting offensive linemen, two linebackers, running back Arian Foster and tight end Jordan Cameron. They had one big play - Ryan Tannehill threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills - but couldn't do anything else on offense.
"We've got to get it fixed and quick, and by that I mean Monday," Tannehill said. "We're kind of in a dark spot right now. It's squarely on our shoulders."
The Bengals' defense expected to get a lift from Burfict's return. The volatile linebacker was suspended by the NFL for the first three games because of his illegal hits. He got a loud ovation when he ran onto the field during introductions wearing a baseball cap. Burfict knocked down a pass and had three tackles.
"He's amazing," end Carlos Dunlap said. "Did you see the plays he made? Those aren't plays you can coach. He came off his couch and played great. It's good to have him back."
Mostly, it was Green's show. He caught a 51-yard pass off Dalton's scramble in the first half, and had a 43-yard catch that set up another field goal in the third quarter for a 19-7 lead.
A large fan banner in the upper deck at Paul Brown Stadium honored Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died with two friends in a boat crash early Sunday near Miami Beach. The banner read: "Jose 16 Heaven's Bright."
STILL CAN'T RUN
The Bengals rushed for 77 yards and only a 2.1-yard average against the second-worst run defense in the league, one missing two starting linebackers.
Miami had seven penalties for 68 yards. The most egregious was by Terrence Fede, who pushed Kevin Huber to the ground after he punted in the third quarter. The penalty gave Cincinnati the ball, and the Bengals got a field goal out of it.
Dolphins: LT Branden Albert and C Anthony Steen were inactive with sprained ankles. Also missing were LBs Koa Misi (neck) and Jelani Jenkins (groin). C Mike Pouncey has missed all four games with a hip injury.
Bengals: TE Tyler Eifert was inactive again, contributing to the Bengals' trouble close to the goal line. He's recovering from offseason ankle surgery and returned to practice on a limited basis last week. CB Dre Kirkpatrick was inactive with a hamstring injury suffered Sunday. G Clint Boling sat out most of the fourth quarter with an injured left shoulder.
Stills and Dolphins safety Michael Thomas knelt with their hands over their hearts during the anthem.
Tannehill was 15 of 25 for 189 yards with a touchdown, an interception, a fumble and five sacks. Dalton was 22 of 31 for 296 yards with a touchdown and a sack.
The Dolphins begin a stretch of four straight home games against Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the New York Jets.
The Bengals have a tough two-game stretch, playing Dallas and New England on the road. They're 1-5 in Dallas, dropping their last three. They've dropped their last six at New England, last winning in 1986.