Former Patriots linebacker Junior Seau had a Hall of Fame football career and was a fan favorite in the multiple cities in which he played.
So when news of his domestic violence arrest and his driving his car over a California cliff surfaced yesterday, it left some questioning what led the likeable, respected and popular athlete to allegedly commit those acts.
“When you’re no longer in the league, the human support usually isn’t there anymore,” said Dave Czesniuk, the director of operations at Northeastern University’s Sport in Society center. “In this case, we’re talking 20 years without having to worry about your own coping skills … and then to enter this void, that can be a real hard thing.”
Czesniuk said reports of Seau allegedly abusing his 25-year-old live-in girlfriend were awful and that it’s a pervasive problem that garners a higher level of attention when an athlete is involved.
“They’re public figures and the public eye catches them, but the problem itself is societywide,” he said.
Seau told police he wasn’t trying to kill himself and had fallen asleep at the wheel, according to TMZ.
He is hardly the first athlete accused of domestic violence; the issue is one of the reasons behind the creation of the center’s Mentors in Violence Prevention program that teaches athletes about coping skills and dealing with issues like domestic abuse, racism and gun violence.
Some professional sports leagues, including the National Football League, offer athletes counseling on violent crime issues.
Seau spent four years with the Patriots. He recently starred in his own television show, owns a restaurant in San Diego and is founder of the Junior Seau Foundation. He is a divorced father of four.