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Ex-49er Gary Plummer: Seau’s suicide was a wake-up call to seek help

By Jerry Mcdonald

If you or someone you know is struggling with feelings of depression or suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free, round-the-clock support, information and resources for help. Reach the lifeline at 988 or 800-273-8255, or see the website.

Gary Plummer realized something was seriously wrong a little more than 10 years ago.

His headaches had become more persistent. Plummer figured it was payment for a lifetime of football at Mission San Jose High, Ohlone College, Cal, the USFL’s Oakland Invaders, the San Diego Chargers and then finally with the 49ers.

The peak of his career arrived following the 1994 season, when the 49ers beat the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. The Chargers were led by linebacker Junior Seau, who lined up for 64 games and four seasons alongside Plummer in San Diego.

Plummer was working out on his elliptical on May 2, 2012 when he saw the news — Seau had taken his own life with a shotgun blast to the chest. In an episode of “HeadStrong: Mental Health and Sports” as produced by NBC Sports Bay Area, Plummer knew he’d come to a crossroads.

His own headaches had become longer in duration, leading to depression, and Plummer said he contemplated taking his own life just as his friend had done.

“I just stopped and started bawling,” Plummer said.

It began a process during which Plummer learned he had early onset dementia, the result of what he said were “thousands” of concussions.

“People will go, ‘Oh my God, that’s such an exaggeration,’ ” Plummer said. “You put this forehead under the chin of an offensive guard that weighs 300 pounds, because you’re trying to get leverage on him, I promise you, every single time you’re going to see stars.”

Corey Plummer, Gary’s wife, had already begun to notice some changes in her husband. Normally handy around the house, Plummer suddenly had difficulty fixing and building things.

“Simpler tasks were not as easy as they once were,” Corey Plummer said.

Gary Plummer simply pushed it all aside.

“I would remind myself, I’ve had more joy than a hundred people have a right to have,” Plummer said. “So if there’s this headache, that’s just the price you have to pay. And for some of us, it takes a long time for that ‘I’m invincible’ feeling to go away. So you just choke it down and you don’t want to complain.”

After Seau’s death, Corey and Gary had a serious talk.

“We went outside and had a beer and I said, ‘I can’t have you be next and we can’t ignore what’s been happening. It’s just time. It’s time to acknowledge and get some help,’ ” she said.

Plummer, 62, acknowledges the conversation, as well as Seau’s death, “saved my life.”

Source: Paradise Post