Patriots try to block out NIH report on Junior Seau’s death

FOXBOROUGH — As the Patriots were in the midst of preparations to host the Houston Texans Sunday in an AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium, cornerback Devin McCourty expressed sadness over a report by the National Institute of Health that cited a degenerative brain condition as the reason behind the suicide of former Patriots linebacker Junior Seau.

“I think just hearing that is definitely saddening,” McCourty said. “But I think right now, you really don’t think about that going into a playoff game. I think, for me, that’s where all my focus is, but it’s definitely sad to hear about that.”

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According to an exclusive report from ABC News/ESPN, Seau, who shot himself in the chest in May 2012, was found to have suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative condition that can lead to memory loss, dementia, and depression.

Seau’s family had his brain donated to the NIH, which found Seau was among those former NFL players who had suffered from CTE.

Patriots veteran guard Logan Mankins, who has been subjected to numerous head-on collisions in the trenches, was asked by a TV reporter Thursday at Gillette if the NIH’s report was cause for concern for athletes at all levels of the game.

“I’d say so, probably, if you sit down and really think about it,” Mankins said. “But it’s the playoffs right now so that’s the least of our concerns right now. You could probably say that we’re meat-headed and ignorant not to think about it, but maybe in February after the season we can think about it.”

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