Friday, May 4, 2012

Jumping to conclusions: covering Junior Seau's suicide

Many years ago Disney World used to have these wonderful junkets in which stations would send reporters along with local sports legends for a week playing what were called "Goofy Games." I was fortunate enough to be included on a few of these, getting the chance to rub elbows with Hall of Famers and actually have conversations with them. By the way, most of the sports stars were already retired.

What was eye opening was a conversation I had with the wife of a man who was a sports legend. She told me how he was bored out of his mind, and spent a lot of time with his old teammates on the phone talking about how boring life was without a game on the line. "You can only play so much golf," she said.

A lot of the legends I met during those weeks fell into that category. I was expecting guys with the world by the tail, but a lot of them were simply sad, middle-aged guys who acted like their lives were over. I came away feeling sorry for many of them.

Think about it: suppose you rose to the level of network anchor and all of a sudden at 35 you're out of the business and no one will hire you because you're too old. You'd get depressed too.

Head injuries and concussions are the hot topic these days when it comes to football, and no one will deny these guys take way too many shots to the brain. But sports suicides are a different animal. Few commentators have mentioned life after the cheering has stopped.

We can never really know what goes through someone's mind that causes that person to take his own life. Jump to all the conclusions you want, but the answers will never really be known.


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