Junior Seau 'facing demons' for months, ex-teammate says

Former NFL linebacker Gary Plummer said that Junior Seau, with whom he played with on the San Diego Chargers for four seasons, had been "facing demons for at least 18 months," according to the San Jose Mercury News.

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"People can take pills, run their car off the road, and that's a cry for help," Plummer said. "He was crying out for help. Yet he was too proud to ask for it."

Plummer played with Seau before he joined the 1994 San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl-winning team.

On Thursday, Plummer, 52, said he's doing "terrible" a day after Seau's death, which has been ruled a suicide by the San Diego County medical examiner's office. He said he hopes it brings awareness to the struggles of athletes whose lives so suddenly change upon retirement. Specifically, Plummer wants all departing players to receive mandatory counseling so they can cope with life after football -- something with which Seau apparently struggled, Plummer noted.

"You can grow up and live your childhood dream and be a hometown hero and then feel, 'Is this all there is?' when it's over," Plummer said.

"There is no exit strategy from the NFL," Plummer added. "It's: 'You're done.' You don't even get an apple and a road map."

Plummer said that mandatory counseling ought to be instituted. "In 15 years as a middle linebacker, I never would have thought of seeing a counselor. I saw one in my divorce, and I just called my counselor today. It can't be optional, because macho players are taught to be invincible, and they're not going to do it."

When they saw each other last month at a golf tournament, Plummer asked Seau how he was doing, and after an upbeat response, Plummer pulled Seau off to the side to ask again. Plummer said Seau gave the same response: "Good, really."

"Junior is a perfect example: You're judged not just on the way you played the game but the most revered characteristic is how tough you are," Plummer said. "You're taught that you need to be a tough guy, and not just physically."

"It needs to come to light that this was not an isolated incident."

Seau's family has decided to allow researchers to study his brain for evidence of damage as the result of concussions, Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell told The Los Angeles Times on Thursday night.