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Ex-Patriots Tedy Bruschi, Ty Law among preliminary nominees for Pro Football Hall of Fame 09.17.14 at 7:00 am ET
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Tedy Bruschi (Getty Images)

Tedy Bruschi (Getty Images)

Several former Patriots are among the preliminary nominees for the 2015 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it was revealed late Tuesday.

All of the nominees who made it who have New England ties were on the defensive side of the football. Linebackers Tedy Bruschi (who played with the Patriots from 1996-2008), Willie McGinest (1994-2005) and Junior Seau (2006-2009) are all on the list. In addition, Rodney Harrison (2003-2008), Ty Law (1995-2004) and Shawn Springs (2009) made it as well. And defensive lineman Fred Smerlas (1991-1992) and Ted Washington (2003) were also named as nominees.

A total of 99 players and 14 coaches comprise the 113 nominees. A modern-era player or coach must be retired at least five consecutive seasons to be eligible. The selection committee will choose 25 candidates as semifinalists in late November. That list will be reduced to 15 modern-era finalists in early January. The 2015 class will be voted on the day before the Super Bowl.

One senior committee nominee, former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff, also will be on the ballot.

Several former Patriots have already reached the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including offensive lineman John Hannah, linebacker Andre Tippett and cornerback Mike Haynes.

Read More: Andre Tippett, Fred Smerlas, John Hannah, Junior Seau
Report: Junior Seau had brain disease 01.10.13 at 7:52 am ET
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Gina Seau, the ex-wife of former NFL star Junior Seau, told ABC News that her former husband’s brain has tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to memory loss, depression and dementia. Junior Seau committed suicide last May, shooting himself in the chest at his home in Oceanside, Cailf. Within hours of his death, the Seau family had received calls from researchers hoping to use Seau’s brain for study.

The Seau family ultimately selected the National Institutes of Health, and five independent brain specialists consulted by the NIH all came to the conclusion that Seau suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease associated with head trauma. Over 4,000 former NFL players are currently suing the league in federal court, claiming the league refuse to acknowledge the link between brain damage and football, even after CTE was found in retired players. The Seau family has not decided if it would join in the lawsuits.

“I think it’s important for everyone to know that Junior did indeed suffer from CTE,” Gina Seau told ABC News. “It’s important that we take steps to help these players. We certainly don’t want to see anything like this happen again to any of our athletes.”

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Rodney Harrison on The Big Show: NFL ‘trying to protect their butts’ 06.12.12 at 8:48 pm ET
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NBC football analyst and former Patriot Rodney Harrison appeared on The Big Show on Tuesday and discussed his thoughts on concussions in the NFL. To hear the interview, go to The Big Show audio on demand page.

Harrison said that while he thinks the NFL is taking action to cut down on concussions to help the players, it is also doing its best to help itself in the public eye.

‘€œReally what the NFL is doing is they’€™re trying to clean up the game,’€ Harrison said. ‘€œThey know that they’€™re getting a lot of lawsuits with all of these different concussions and things of that sort and they are trying to protect not only the players, but they are trying to protect their butts because people are looking to sue them. Obviously with all these different guys lined up and filing these cases against the national football league it is very difficult right now for them.

‘€œI think they are doing the right thing by cutting out all of these physical padded practices, these minicamps and things of that sort because if I played in the time when they would have cut all these back I could have played 20 years.’€

Harrison went on to say that while it is on the NFL to help protect the players’€™ long-term health, the players themselves should understand the risk involved with playing in the NFL.

‘€œI think [the NFL is] doing the best job they can, but we as players, we have to understand that if we hit a 250-, 300-pounder helmet to helmet, guess what? It’€™s going to hurt,’€ Harrison said. ‘€œThere is a chance that you are going to have headaches, concussions. There is going to be physical damage, not just now but later on down the line when you get older. It’€™s the risk that you assume when you’€™re playing in the National Football League. You would have got to be a complete idiot not to sit back and understand that there are going to be repercussions running into a guy for a matter of three, four, five or 10 years. It is what it is. I’€™m not one of those guys.

‘€œI have experienced headaches and I have experienced dizziness and these things, but I’€™m not trying to file a lawsuit because I pretty much knew that. Guess what? I play a pretty tough sport. And guess what? It hurts, and it’€™s painful, and you’€™re going to have headaches and there are going to be long-term consequences to everything that you’€™ve done. And that is all part of the game.’€

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Read More: Junior Seau, Rodney Harrison,
Citing concussions, Tom Brady’s dad not sure he would let son play football 05.23.12 at 1:58 pm ET
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If he had to do it all over again, Tom Brady Sr. isn’€™t sure he would allow his son to play football.

In light of the growing body of research linking degenerative brain disease to the type of head trauma common in football, Brady Sr. told Yahoo Sports’€™ Michael Silver: “No, not without hesitation. I would be very hesitant to let him play.”

The comments come in the wake of Kurt Warner‘€™s admission that he would prefer his sons not play football. Warner received a good deal of criticism from fans and former players, including former Steelers running back Merril Hoge and former Giants receiver Amani Toomer.

Brady Sr., who did not let his son play until he was 14 years old, defended Warner’€™s position.

“This head thing is frightening for little kids. There’s the physical part of it and the mental part — it’s becoming very clear there are very serious long-term ramifications. I think Kurt Warner is 100 percent correct. He’s there to protect his children, and these other people who are weighing in are not addressing the issue of whether it’s safe or not for kids. All this stuff about, ‘He made his fame and fortune off of football,’ that’s true — but we didn’t know then what we know now. Apparently, they don’t take their own parenting responsibility very seriously, or they don’t value their children’s health as much as they should.”

Pointing to the similarities in the suicides of Brady’€™s former teammate Junior Seau and former Bears safety Dave Duerson, who shot himself in the chest in order to allow research to be conducted on his brain, Brady Sr. says he still worries about the effects football might have on his son down the road.

“Absolutely,” Brady Sr. said. “That never goes away. The answer is yes, I’m concerned. He claims that he’s only been dinged once or twice, but I don’t know how forthright he’s being. He’s not gonna tell us, as his parents, anything negative that’s going on. I wouldn’t be shocked that he would hide that.”

Ultimately however, Brady Sr. conceded he would likely now arrive at the same decision to let his son play as he did two decades ago.

“If he were 14 now, and he really wanted to play, in all likelihood I would let him,” he said. “But it would not be an easy decision, at all.”

Read More: Concussions, Junior Seau, Kurt Warner, New England Patriots
Jerod Mayo and Rob Ninkovich recall Junior Seau’s impact on the game 05.03.12 at 4:07 pm ET
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Both Jerod Mayo and Rob Ninkovich issued statements through the Patriots on Thursday afternoon regarding the death of former New England linebacker Junior Seau:

Mayo: ‘€œI was shocked and deeply saddened when I heard the news about Junior. I spent my first two years in the NFL with him. He was so approachable and welcoming and really worked with me to help me to adjust to life in the NFL. He was a true mentor and teammate. He had a legendary NFL career and had a passion for the game that I try to emulate. This is a sad day for me. My thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and his many friends. ‘€œ

Ninkovich: ‘€œI grew up watching Junior Seau play linebacker. He defined the position and I try to emulate my play on the field after his. It was an honor to play with an NFL legend. 2009 was my first year with the Patriots and when Junior came in, our lockers were right next to each other. As a veteran, he shared valuable advice with me and was a true teammate. I am deeply saddened by the loss and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family.’€

Read More: Jerod Mayo, Junior Seau, Rob Ninkovich,
Matt Slater remembers Junior Seau as a passionate leader and icon of the game of football at 12:53 pm ET
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FOXBORO — As a football-loving kid growing up in Southern California, Matt Slater had two categories of football hero: his father Jackie, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman with the Rams and Junior Seau. Then, there was everyone else.

‘€œJunior Seau was a legend,’€ Slater said Thursday during a break between workouts at Gillette Stadium. ‘€œBack to his time at USC, to his time with the Chargers. I grew up idolizing Junior.

‘€œIf you were a kid who loved football in Southern California, Junior Seau was right at the top of the list. He meant so much to the NFL in general, but to Southern California, he had a huge impact on that region.’€

Slater had the unique opportunity to live out a dream — after he was drafted out of UCLA by the Patriots in 2008, he spent part of two seasons as a teammate of Seau.

‘€œAnd then having a chance to play with him for two years and seeing how he was off the field — the type of man he was,’€ Slater said. ‘€œHe was a leader that was second to none.’€

Seau was found dead on Wednesday, a shocking and sad end to football life that touched thousands of people, particularly for those who knew him like Slater.

‘€œHe was so full of life and it just comes as a total shock,’€ Slater said. ‘€œYour heart really goes out to his family. You know, you saw his mom’€™s response. No mother should have to bury her son, so I just think we’€™re all in a state of shock right now.

‘€œIn here this morning, we’€™re just kind of … the guys who knew Junior and played with him are just sharing our experiences and memories of him. I know some of the Southern California guys, we’€™re just remembering his time at USC, and at the Chargers.’€
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Read More: Jackie Slater, Junior Seau, Matt Slater,
Ted Johnson on D&C: ‘Sick’ over the passing of Junior Seau at 10:40 am ET
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Former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday to discuss the death of NFL great Junior Seau. The former Chargers, Dolphins and Patriots linebacker committed suicide Wednesday, which has brought about questions of whether Seau was suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a degenerative disease common with athletes who have dealt with multiple head injuries.

Johnson said he is “sick” over the passing of Seau, but that there’s no denying that head injuries extend well beyond the game.

“It’s hard to quantify all the hits and what they mean in your life and the decisions you make, but there’s obvious evidence out there that hits to the head can cause problems,” Johnson said. “‘€¦ It affects your mood, it affects your decision-making. It’s really hard for a lot of guys, especially when they retire, to handle stress-related things. It’s a lot more difficulty to kind of sift through things in life that maybe earlier you could handle.

“People are making judgements as far as perhaps there’s a link to it, and there might be. They’ve done 36 autopsies of former athletes that have had concussions, and 35 of them come back with signs of CTE, which is particularly in guys that have had multiple concussions. You have to think that Junior, if hopefully they can do an autopsy on his brain, will show the same effect. It’s a serious issue.”

Johnson estimates that he himself suffered between 100-150 or more concussions during his 10 years in the NFL. Seau shot himself in the chest, suggesting he may have wanted to leave his brain to be studied. Given that, Johnson noted that “if there’s a tipping point for this issue, this puts it over the edge.”

“There’s this idea that we’re bigger than life, that we have no [weaknesses]. We are football players, we are gladiators, this is what we do. People don’t want to hear about the other stuff,” Johnson said. “I think people are going to find out that there was a lot more demons that Junior had to deal with.

“To link it back to concussion stuff, there’s no question that when your head takes that many hits, that physiologically there’s a shift in your brain. Something changes that you have to deal with and Junior was obviously at a point where he had no other options in his mind other than doing what he did.”

Johnson remembered Seau as a “pro’s pro,” but noted that the perhaps Seau had another side that he kept shielded from teammates and the public eye.

“Somebody who feels life that much who is just that passionate — and the highs, you see him so up and so pumped, and that’s how he was — the thing about it, conversely is the depths he must have gone to,” Johnson said. “He must have dealt with things and gone to levels emotionally on the lowest end that I think are going to come out, that he didn’t want anyone to know about. I wasn’t completely shocked, but at the same time, it makes you think about your own mortality, too.”

Johnson retired during training camp prior to the 2005 season. In the years that followed his retirement, he claimed that part of his concussion problems were the result of Patriots coach Bill Belichick making him practice after suffering a concussion. Johnson said that he has since lost touch with Belichick and owner Robert Kraft.

“It bums me out a little bit,” Johnson said. “When I came out with my story about what happened in ’02 to the [New York] Times and the [Boston] Globe in ’07, I just think, from what I was told, that put a bad taste in Mr. Kraft’s palate. I feel horrible, because it wasn’t about trying to get back at Belichick and Mr. Kraft.

“I owe so much to football. Football saved my life in a lot of ways, and the Krafts, and even coach Belichick and I were able to work things out, but this issue was so much bigger than that. Unfortunately, they took it more personally than I wish they would have. Honestly, I haven’t had any contact with them, and I don’t know. I just feel bad about it, but that’s just the way it is.”

Read More: CTE, Junior Seau, Ted Johnson,
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