WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Cardinal Newman coach Steve Walsh knows the pressure of big-time football. The former University of Miami quarterback played for six NFL teams over eleven seasons. He recalled the Junior Seau he knew.
"Great personality, somebody that always seemed to be upbeat an positive," said Walsh.
While not speculating about why Seau apparently killed himself, Walsh says retired players often face hits that are tougher to handle than ones on the field.
"When guys get out of the league, they have financial problems, marital problems. I don't know the whole story, but it's sad," said Walsh.
Palm Beach Sports psychologist John Murray has treated almost thirty players in the NFL.
"Mental health is stigmatized in sport. It's a population at risk," said Murray.
He posted this on Twitter shortly after Seau's death: "How many more suicides will we have to tolerate before the sports world gets it?"
There is increasing debate in the NFL about the impact of injuries, especially brain concussions on players.
Seau did not have a reported history of concussions, but his death will raise the questions again.
Just last year Chicago Bear Dave Deurson shot himself in the heart to preserve his brain so it could be studied by doctors to examine the impact of injuries on football players.
Without knowing what Seau went through, Murray says pro athletes are often afraid to get help dealing with other issues: fame, pressure, money and attention.
He says this underlines why pro teams should make mental health checkups mandatory.
"Somebody needs to be in there talking with them on a regular basis about not only getting ready for Sunday, but about getting ready for thirty years from now," said Murray.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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