A very sad event took place on May 2nd, 2o12. One of the greatest athletes to ever grace the green pastures of a football field took his own life. Junior Seau was more than just an NFL player. He was an NFL “God”. Seau did things on the field that so many people tried to imitate but could never duplicate. He was THE force to be reckoned with and a great teammate. I wanted to take the time to share with the world what Junior Seau meant to me growing up and playing a game that we both loved.
While I grew up and looked up to the players of the late 80’s and 90’s, I loved watching guys like Emmitt Smith, Charles Haley, Bruce Smith, Bruce Mathews and Jerry Rice. To me, those guys were what football was all about. They played the game like it was always meant to be played. With everything you have to give to left out on the field after every game. Now, you will see in the list of men that Seau’s name is not in there. That is because he was the epitome of what the NFL meant. Play hard, never show your weaknesses, leave everything out there, and always have more in the tank just in case it was needed. That was Seau football. He never showed people that he was hurt or even injured. He never missed games. He would drag his butt out on the field even if he had a broken hand and would make more tackles than four or five of his teammates combined and not complain once about the pain.
Junior Seau played at such a high level at all times that while I watched him in thatSan Diego#55, I wanted to play just like that. I wanted to go out there and want people to fear me on the field and on the other side of the card pick up the guy that I just destroyed and pat his butt and tell him what a great play he just made. That was what I saw come from Junior Seau every down of every game. Offensive Coordinators would gameplan around this guy. Quarterbacks made sure to know where he was at all times. They wanted to make sure they knew so they could prepare for a hit that was going to come from him. That was what I wanted to do even as a young kid just starting out playing this great game.
Now, as I grew up and became the player that I did become; I did not meet the standards my seven year old self set for me in the future- but I continued to try and have the same attitude towards the game that Seau portrayed so well for so long. Even when ole #55 leftSan Diegoand went to the dreaded New England Patriots I could not help myself in watching how Junior was playing and how he was mentoring the younger guys around to play with such ferocity that they, too, would be the most feared men on the field. I was sad to see the day that Seau retired. The game was losing a great player and an even better person that is always needed around to make your team better; and that’s what Seau did for any team he was on or any player who had contact with him. He made them better.
Now, fast forward to a couple of years later. The news that I, and everyone else, was reading about Junior Seau was shocking. Domestic violence, driving off a cliff and possible alcohol problems was not how we all saw him. To me, growing up, Junior was like Superman. Nothing could hurt him and he could not hurt anyone. As I saw all this news coming out over time my heart hurt for him and his family. Everyone knew that Seau, among others, suffered from concussion issues that stemmed from playing in the NFL and many thought that this was a direct contributor to his personal problems that he faced. The people who knew him more intimately really knew what was going on and I’m sure tried to do their best to help him through the rough times. Seau was a man that would never ask for help. Remember, this is the man that would have injuries and instead of being with his teammates and getting taken care of he would go to a private place and bring in a private doctor to help him mend so that even the people he shared so many great and not so great moments with would not be able to see how hurt he really was. This most likely spilled over into his personal life and he would not want his friends and family to know just how these problems were really affecting him.
Marcellus Wiley, a former NFL player and now ESPN analyst, said it best when the news broke on ESPN. He made the statement that Junior was always there for everyone and he just wished that Junior would have known just how many people were there for him. Junior Seau’s death is being ruled a suicide and many of the factors seem to point to just that. I was extremely sad to see this news come across Twitter and I was feeling so sorry for his kids who now were not going to have their father who, most likely, loved them more than anything. I will not go on thinking about Junior Seau as someone who could not take life and took his own. I will go on the rest of my life talking about Seau as one of the most ferocious, high intensity, all business players that inspired me to try and become a quarter of the player that he was. I will always look at and talk about Junior Seau on a positive note and no one will ever change that. You can talk about how he died and how selfish it was of him, and you may be right, but always remember the gladiator that played a great game to the highest level for so many years- and how not many people play this game like that anymore. So, I want to say Mr. Seau, thank you. You will be missed and I am sure there was so much more going on behind the scenes. Yes I wish you would have opened up to your closest confidants but nothing can change now. So as fans, we need to move on from this so that his legacy does not become so tainted that people only remember the bad things about him, and not the greatest moments of a great NFL career.