Former Carolina Panther weighs in on Junior Seau report - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Former Carolina Panther weighs in on Junior Seau report: more awareness needed

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A new report out Thursday shows former NFL star Junior Seau had a degenerative brain disease when he committed suicide last May. The news is hitting close to home for former Carolina Panther Mike Rucker.

That's because the condition, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, is often associated with repetitive head injuries.

Former defensive lineman Mike Rucker knows all too well the hard hits you're subject to on the football field.

"I feel fine now, but what about 20 years from now," he wondered. "What am I looking at?"

But he admits the news about Seau was a bit of gut check.

"Is there anything I can do now," he wondered. "Whether it's eating certain things or getting certain tests, is there something I can supplement-wise that can help slow a process down."

It's why Rucker hopes today's report continues to raise awareness about the dangers of concussions.

"If it doesn't open up eyes and conversation, I don't know what would," he said. 

Dr. Keith Anderson, a sports medicine and concussion specialist couldn't agree more.

"I think that more is being done everyday to keep players safe but there's still a long ways to go as far as educating the athletes themselves, the parents, the coaches," said Anderson. 

But Rucker argues you should start even earlier.

"You got have the coaches understand that 'hey this is serious' even at the 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 year old level," he pointed out. 

That's not to say Rucker discounts the realities of the game, most recently -- the massive hit by South Carolina Gamecock defensive end Jadeveon Clowney during a game against Michigan state last week.

"That is definitely something that is probably going to be on the highlights," Rucker admitted. "I think there's certain things you can't take out of the game and that's the physicalness."

Still he believes the priority should be a player's health -- long term.

"We need to take that out of the coaches hands, the GMs hands, anybody but somebody in the medical field," he said.

If you think your child is suffering from a concussion, look out for symptoms like headaches, dizziness, nausea, trouble with concentration and memory or difficulty sleeping.

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