No food here this time, and I hope the title comes off as terse, rather than glib. So, Junior Seau is dead, of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot to the chest. Ex-Bears safety Dave Duerson killed himself in a similar way, and left a note asking that his brain be examined for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. It's natural to wonder, even in the absence of a note, if Seau made the same choice for the same reason. I will leave the forensics to the coroners and the percentages to the actuaries, but the very fact of this speculation takes the conversation about Seau's life and death to a place far away from the NFL.
Toward the end of her famous "Can the Subaltern Speak," Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak writes,
"A young woman of sixteen or seventeen, Bhuvaneswari Bhaduri, hanged herself in her father’s modest apartment in North Calcutta in 1926. The suicide was a puzzle since, as Bhuvaneswari was menstruating at the time, it was clearly not a case of illicit pregnancy. Nearly a decade later, it was discovered that she was a member of one of the many groups involved in the armed struggle for Indian independence. She had finally been entrusted with a political assassination. Unable to confront the task and yet aware of the practical need for trust, she killed herself.
Bhuvaneswari had known that her death would be diagnosed as the outcome of illegitimate passion. She had therefore waited for the onset of menstruation. While waiting, Bhuvaneswari, the brahmacrini who was no doubt looking forward to good wifehood, perhaps rewrote the social text of sati -suicide in an interventionist way."
Seau's connection with a female revolutionary who killed herself in Calcutta in 1926 comes in the challenges they both face in communicating their subjectivity. For different reasons and in very different places, the only rhetorical gestures remaining to Bhaduri and Seau lie in the nuances of the ways they choose to take their own lives. It might be possibile to tease out how an opressive masculinist culture silenced each in a different way, but I'd rather avoid getting into TL/DR territory. For now, let's just say that any culture where the method of suicide is the only form of communication remaining to a citizen is a culture that needs work.