Seau's family to allow his brain to be studied

751944.jpg

Seau's family to allow his brain to be studied

The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that "Junior Seau's family has decided to allow researchers to study his brain for evidence of damage as the result of concussions".

The newspaper quoted San Diego Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell, who spoke with the family. Mitchell said no decision has been made as to who will do the study, though the Boston University School of Medicine -- which has been conducting research into football-related head trauma and performed an examination of former Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson, who requested in his suicide note that his brain be given to BU -- has publicly asked for the right to examine Seau.

The former Patriots, Chargers and Dolphins linebacker died Wednesday of a gunshot wound to the chest that police have ruled was self-inflicted. Speculation began almost immediately that brain trauma caused by repeated concussions sparked Seau's suicide, at age 43.

In the days since his death, Seau's friends and family have said he suffered multiple concussions during his 20-year career but always attempted to hide them from his team's medical staffs.

Seau left no suicide note. But before Duerson fired a bullet into his chest last year, he left word with his family to have his brain examined for damage he believed was caused by repeated blows to the head from his hell-bent style on the football field. Two weeks ago, former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling -- who was part of a lawsuit against the National Football League over the league's handling of concussion-related injuries -- also committed suicide, at age 62. Easterling's wife said he suffered from depression and insomnia and lost the ability to focus and organize his thoughts . . . all of which, she believed, was the result of head trauma from his football days.

Former player Kyle Turley has no doubt that Seau wanted to make sure his brain could be studied, which is why he -- like Duerson -- shot himself in the chest.

"I don't care what anybody says," Turley told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday. "I know why he did it."

Report: NFL paid Goodell over $31 million in 2015

roger-goodell-thumbs-up.jpg

Report: NFL paid Goodell over $31 million in 2015

Roger Goodell's salary has reportedly fallen in recent years, but he's still paid handsomely for his work as NFL commissioner.

According to the Associated Press, Goodell earned just over $31 million for 2015. That's a seven percent decrease from the $34 million he received for 2014. 

The NFL's last tax return served as an indicator of Goodell's 2015 salary. The league's tax returns no longer have to be made public since it has changed its status from exempt to taxable, per the AP.

The next-highest paid executive at the NFL offices on Park Avenue? General counsel Jeff Pash, one of the most prominent players in the Deflategate sage, who earned $6.5 million in 2015, down from $7.5 million in 2014. 

Richardson suspended one game for violating personal conduct policy

sheldon-richardson.jpg

Richardson suspended one game for violating personal conduct policy

The NFL announced this week that Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson has been suspended without pay for Week 1 of the 2016 regular season for violating the league's personal conduct policy. 

Richardson will miss his team's season-opener against the Bengals and will be eligible to return to the Jets active roster on Sep. 12. The Jets and the Patriots meet for the first of their two division games on Nov. 27. 

Richardson responded to the news of suspension on Thursday. 

In July of 2015, Richardson led police on a high-speed chase -- hitting speeds as high as 143 miles per hour -- in suburban St. Louis. Police reported a strong odor of marijuana in the car and inside found a loaded, semiautomatic handgun that was possessed legally. Richardson had a 12-year-old relative riding with him in his Bentley at the time of the incident.

In January, Richardson pleaded guilty to resisting arrest. Though he avoided jail time, he was sentenced to two years probation and 100 hours of community service. 

Richardson has been one of the league's best defensive linemen since entering the league as a first-rounder in 2013. He served a four-game suspension to start last season after violating the league's substance abuse policy.

PFF: Collins is 'the best linebacker in the AFC'

collins-gallery_0.jpg

PFF: Collins is 'the best linebacker in the AFC'

He may have been left off of the NFL Network's Top 100 list, but Jamie Collins isn't flying under the radar at Pro Football Focus.

On PFF's list of the top 10 defensive players in the AFC, the Patriots linebacker came in at No. 8 and was given the description as the top linebacker in the conference.

Collins' versatility within the confines of the Patriots defense is what makes him so valuable, PFF's John Kosko explains: 

"He doesn’t dominate in any one role like Luke Kuechly does in pass coverage and run defense, but he is very good at all facets of the game. Collins has the athleticism to cover TEs and HBs effectively, the explosiveness to rush the passer, and the size and strength to defend the run. 

"The former Southern Mississippi linebacker is arguably the most versatile player in the NFL, and allows Bill Belichick to employ a defense that confuses opposing quarterbacks. With the only knock against Collins being his 34 missed tackles the past two seasons, the Patriot is the best linebacker in the AFC."

Collins graded out as the No. 5 linebacker in football last year, per PFF's numbers. He ranked behind only Carolina's Luke Kuechly, Minnesota's Anthony Barr, Indianapolis' Jerrell Freeman and Seattle's KJ Wright. 

Fellow Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower earned the 10th-highest grade for linebackers last season, according to PFF -- a grade that likely would have been higher had his snap-count (602 in 2015) approached that of Collins (792).

While Collins is a rare physical talent, the argument could be made that it's Hightower who is the more important player to the Patriots defense given his prowess as a pass-rusher and run-defender. He also has myriad responsibilities as the extension of the team's coaching staff in the defensive huddle. 

In order to slow down opposing passing games, many Patriots defensive packages employ either five or six defensive backs and just two linebackers. Lucky for them, they have two of the best in the conference.

Both Collins and Hightower are entering contract years this year, and finding a way to keep them in-house figures to be near the top of the list of priorities for the Patriots front office.