Junior Seau's tragic death has triggered a lawsuit from the former linebacker's family.
A wrongful death suit, filed Wednesday in California Superior Court in San Diego, targets the NFL for "acts or omissions" that concealed the risk of repeated hits to the head during Seau's 20 seasons in the league with the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, The Associated Press reported.
The family claims Seau -- who died in May, at age 43, of a self-inflicted gunshot -- developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of his playing days. The suit blames the league for ignoring evidence tying violent on-field hits to traumatic brain injuries.
"We were saddened to learn that Junior, a loving father and teammate, suffered from CTE," the family said in a statement provided to The AP. "While Junior always expected to have aches and pains from his playing days, none of us ever fathomed that he would suffer a debilitating brain disease that would cause him to leave us too soon.
"We know this lawsuit will not bring back Junior. But it will send a message that the NFL needs to care for its former players, acknowledge its decades of deception on the issue of head injuries and player safety, and make the game safer for future generations."
The suit also claims the NFL actively promotes violence and monster hits as "a badge of courage which does not seriously threaten one's health."
League spokesman Brian McCarthy told Around the League on Wednesday: "Our attorneys will review it and respond to the claims appropriately through the court."
Helmet manufacturer Riddell Inc., also is being sued by the Seaus, who say Riddell was "negligent in their design, testing, assembly, manufacture, marketing, and engineering of the helmets" used by NFL players, per the AP.
The suit says the helmets were unreasonably dangerous and unsafe.
The NFL repeatedly has denied the type of allegations found in the lawsuit, filed by Gina Seau, Junior's ex-wife; Junior's children Tyler, Sydney, Jake and Hunter, and Bette Hoffman, trustee of Seau's estate.
"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," the league told The AP upon learning that Seau suffered from CTE.
Those who lived with Seau saw his decline firsthand, claiming he suffered "wild behavior swings" and evidence of "irrationality, forgetfulness, insomnia and depression."
The loss of Seau is a haunting moment for the NFL and those who followed the linebacker's extensive career. Most of all, he is missed by those who lived with him, loved him and called him family.