Lights Out: Dr. Tucker and Mr. DeVine Discuss Why Football Players Struggle After Leaving the Game

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Professionals from the Mind Matters Clinic of Texas take a closer look at recent suicide deaths of professional football players, examining the role of a head trauma as well as the nature of football players' personalities and the environment on and off the playing field.

The death of Junior Seau, the third suicide among former professional football players in the past 15 months, is shining a spotlight on the game of football once again. His unfortunate death begs two questions:
(1)    Did Seau suffer from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) -- a degenerative brain condition caused by head trauma that could have contributed to his demise?
(2)    What role did Junior Seau’s difficult transition to life after he left the game of professional football have in his suicide?

Lawrence V. Tucker, MD, and Michael D. DeVine, MS, LPC, answers these questions in their recent article “Lights Out: Why are football players struggling once they leave the game.”

“While Seau wasn’t known for having a concussion history while he played, symptoms displayed before his death indicate deep psychological issues,” says Mr. DeVine. “While we don’t know if Seau suffered from CTE, we do know Seau had difficulty transitioning to normal life outside of the game and after his career ended.”

The article “Lights Out: Why are football players struggling once they leave the game” explores both the diagnosis and repercussions of CTE and the facts behind the poor decisions some football players make off of the playing field and after they complete their professional careers. In this timely article, Dr. Tucker and Mr. DeVine explore the reasons behind the suicide deaths of professional football players, CTE, and the nature of football players’ personalities and the environment they live within.

Dr. Tucker is the Consulting Medical Director of the Mind Matters Clinic of Texas and Mr. DeVine is a licensed professional counselor and owner of Michael Devine, CCA. Clinic. This full service psychiatric treatment center utilizes SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) brain imaging, a diagnostic and treatment tool that helps diagnose brain changes due to CTE as well as helping manage mental health treatment. “The Clinic provides current and former players’ access to SPECT scanning, along with a complete psychological workup,” says Dr. Tucker. “We also do SPECT scanning for players entering into the league. This will help in determining what, if any, head trauma was present before playing in the NFL. This serves several important purposes: helping players who have issues at the start of their career, and helping the NFL to distinguish/release liability from those players who have preexisting head trauma or other psychological issues.”

Current and former football players who believe they are suffering from CTE and/or are having trouble adjusting to life off of the field should seek professional treatment. “You only have one brain! Realizing that when football is gone from your life and your brain is not functioning correctly, your quality of life — and the people around you — suffer,” says Dr. Tucker. “There has been one too many outcomes like Junior Seau’s. Every player thinks that this won’t happen to them, but I am certain that while playing Junior Seau didn’t imagine what would be his future.”

The Mind Matters Clinic of Texas has had the privilege of working with past NFL and college players as well as current college, and high school football players. “We have typically seen former players coming in for problems with memory impairment, attention and focus difficulties, impulsive decision making, personality shifts, anxiety, and depression. More troublesome with these clients is that many of them had no previous problems or any family history of these problems as well,” says Mr. DeVine. “Many current players have come in as a result of getting into trouble with legal and academic problems, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and attention and focus difficulties.”

The SPECT scanning process at the Mind Matters Clinic helps provide clinical information in these cases to determine specifically if any brain trauma is contributing to these problems, identify what treatments to prescribe to improve functioning, or if there are other underlying psychological/neuro-chemical reasons for the presenting symptoms.

The Mind Matters Clinic of Texas is a full service treatment center equipped to provide comprehensive integrated treatment of Mood (depression, bipolar) and Anxiety Disorders (panic disorder, phobias), ADD/ADHD, and addictions. The Clinic features the services of a select group of accomplished associates representing PhD psychologists, licensed professional psychological counselors (LPC), and allied mental health professionals. The Mind Matters Clinic of Texas delivers comprehensive treatment and follow-up protocol, resulting in an unparalleled patient-centric care experience.

Lawrence V. Tucker, MD, is the Medical Director of the Mind Matters Clinic of Texas. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and a member of the American Board of Addiction Medicine, practicing in pharmacological management of psychiatric disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and addiction. Dr. Tucker specializes in the treatment of opiate dependence using opiate replacement therapies as well as Sports Psychiatry. He is a distinguished member of the International Society of Sports Psychiatry. Dr. Tucker attended UCLA for his undergraduate degree, a BS in Physiological Sciences, and attended UCLA School of Medicine for his Medical Degree.

Michael D. DeVine, MS, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor, consultant, speaker, and owner of Michael DeVine, CCA. Mr. DeVine has specialized training in Marriage & Family Counseling, Individual Psychodynamic/Cognitive Behavioral Counseling, College Counseling, and Psychological Assessment. He is an active member in the American Counseling Association, Texas Counseling Association, and the Texas Association of Marriage and Family Counselors. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Otterbein College in Ohio, and was awarded his Master’s Degree in Psychology from the University of North Texas.


For more information, contact the Mind Matters Clinic of Texas at (972)-473-0500 and Michael(at)michaeldevinecounseling(dot)com and Lawrence(at)mindmatterstexas(dot)com. Read “Lights Out: Why are football players struggling once they leave the game.” and

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