The family of Junior Seau plan to donate the former linebacker's brain for medical research, according to the chaplain of the San Diego Chargers.
Seau was found dead at his Oceanside, California, home on Wednesday from a gunshot wound to the chest, and the San Diego County medical examiner has concluded the 43-year-old former Chargers star took his own life.
His brain will now likely be used by researchers studying the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative condition brought about by serious brain trauma that has been linked to the deaths of other former NFL players - including former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson who shot himself in the chest in February last year, leaving a note requesting that his brain be examined.
Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell told the Los Angeles Times Seau's family want the same to happen in this case "to help other individuals down the road."
He said: "The family was considering this almost from the beginning, but they didn't want to make any emotional decisions. And when they came to a joint decision that absolutely this was the best thing, it was a natural occurrence for the Seau family to go forward."
Seau, a 12-time Pro Bowler, spent 13 seasons with the San Diego Chargers before later playing with the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots in an NFL career that last 20 years.
He was not noted for suffering a particular head injury during that time but would still have been at risk from repeated hits.