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Originally published Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 8:15 PM

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Seau diagnosed with brain disease

Former NFL linebacker Junior Seau had a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma when he committed suicide last spring...

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Former NFL linebacker Junior Seau had a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma when he committed suicide last spring, the National Institutes of Health said Thursday.

The findings were consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease widely connected to athletes who have absorbed frequent blows to the head, the NIH said in a statement. Seau is the latest and most prominent player to be associated with the disease, which has bedeviled the sport in recent years as a proliferation of studies has exposed the possible long-term cognitive impact of head injuries sustained on the field.

"The type of findings seen in Mr. Seau's brain have been recently reported in autopsies of individuals with exposure to repetitive head injury," the NIH said, "including professional and amateur athletes who played contact sports, individuals with multiple concussions and veterans exposed to blast injury and other trauma."

Since CTE was diagnosed in the brain of former Eagles defensive back Andre Waters after his suicide in 2006, the disease has been found in nearly every former player whose brain was examined posthumously. (CTE can only be diagnosed posthumously.)

Thousands of players and their spouses have joined a lawsuit against the NFL over its handling of concussion-related injuries.

Browns hire Chudzinski

CLEVELAND — Rob Chudzinski's first head-coaching job will be with the team he loved as a kid.

Chudzinski, who spent the past two seasons as Carolina's offensive coordinator, has been hired by the Cleveland Browns as their sixth full-time coach since 1999.

A Browns spokesman confirmed Chudzinski's hiring and said he would be introduced Friday.

Jaguars fire coach,

won't sign Tebow

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars fired coach Mike Mularkey after just one season, the worst in franchise history.

New general manager David Caldwell also said the Jaguars won't pursue Jacksonville native Tim Tebow if he is released by the Jets.

Mularkey, 2-14 this season, became the eighth head coach fired since the end of the regular season.

Notes

David Akers is keeping his job as San Francisco's starting kicker. Coach Jim Harbaugh made the announcement after practice.

• Former Chicago coach Lovie Smith interviewed for the Philadelphia Eagles' coaching vacancy. Smith's Bears were 10-6 this season but missed the playoffs.

• Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway was added to the NFC Pro Bowl team as an injury replacement for DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys.

• The Pittsburgh Steelers cut rookie running back Chris Rainey after his arrest on a battery charge in Gainesville, Fla.

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