The more tragic stories such as Junior Seau’s apparent suicide Wednesday unfold, the less Harry Carson is surprised.
Maybe Seau had personal demons no one knew existed. Or maybe he paid the ultimate price for all of those years when concussions were considered a fact of the machismo NFL life.
"When I heard it, I have to say in the past I would have been shocked," the Hall of Fame Giants linebacker said. "But I’m not shocked anymore."
Carson, early in his career back in the 1980s, said he contemplated suicide while driving over the Tappan Zee Bridge. Then he thought about leaving his infant daughter without a father.
"I knew years ago that there would come a point in time where, whether it was transitioning to the game, or there would be guys having these neurological issues, that players were going to be committing suicide," Carson said.
He added, "I said that years ago. Whether it’s Dave Duerson, whether it’s Andre Waters, whether it’s Ray Easterling from two weeks ago, there are guys who are committing suicide."
Carson continued, "So people who look at me, they wonder about me, because I’ve been so out there in regard to the whole trauma brain-injury thing. I’m fine."
He said he predicted a rash of NFL suicides because of the neurological damage that can occur from playing the game.
"I knew how I felt as a player, having those thoughts of suicide, and you’re going through something, and it’s like you can’t really explain what you’re dealing with, and it’s neurological," he said. "You have these deep bouts of depression, and people think you’re depressed because you’re not playing anymore. You’re depressed because you’re having neurological issues that are very difficult to describe."
Carson added, "When you’re dealing with depression and these issues, then you feel like you’re going through it by yourself. Sometimes you feel like there’s no place to turn. ‘Nobody can understand what I’m going through so I’m going to end it all.’ Especially for athletes, who are very prideful individuals."
He wrote a book detailing his personal post-concussion nightmare but is not part of the concussion lawsuit filed by former players.
"There were attorneys in New York who wanted me to be lead plaintiff," Carson said. "I opted not to. It’s more about the way that I’m built as opposed to going after the NFL to get compensation."
But he added, "For all the players who are a part of [the lawsuit], I can understand."