Junior Seau (from chargers.com)

editor’s note:  The San Diego Chargers are offering fans a chance to leave condolences for the family and team on their website at this link:  http://www.chargers.com/news/article-1/Share-Your-Condolences/77edf1d3-9929-417c-ac3b-c09830cbf8c6

By Alan Duke

LOS ANGELES (CNN) — The coroner’s finding on “cause and manner” of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau’s death could be released Thursday afternoon, but it may be weeks or months before investigators conclude what led up to what they suspect was a suicide.

Seau’s girlfriend found him unconscious and suffering an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chest in a bedroom of his Oceanside, California, home Wednesday morning, police said. The 43-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene after paramedics were unable to revive him.

Funeral arrangements for Seau have not yet been announced by the family.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office, which is conducting Seau’s autopsy Thursday, said the case is being investigated as a suicide. A handgun was found near Seau’s body.

The medical examiner should issue a death certificate Thursday afternoon stating the cause and manner of death, county spokeswoman Sarah Gordon said. But toxicology results and the narrative that could reveal contributing factors in the death may take two weeks or more to complete, she added.

The suicide of a veteran NFL player raised questions about the condition of Seau’s brain and if repeated hits to his head over his 20-year pro career could be a contributing factor.

While the brains of several other players have undergone post-mortem study on the effects of football-related concussions, the medical examiner’s office could not immediately say what would be done with Seau’s brain, Gordon said.

Seau was drafted into the NFL in the first round in 1990 out of the University of Southern California. He debuted with the San Diego Chargers, establishing his Hall of Fame potential as a Pro Bowl staple.

He left San Diego before the 2003 season to join the Miami Dolphins and spent parts of the last four seasons with the New England Patriots before retiring in January. Seau amassed 1,526 tackles, 56.5 sacks and 18 interceptions in his 20-season career.

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