7 May, 2012 – Off the field, this NFL great of Samoan descent, Linebacker Junior Seau gave generously as a philanthropist in the San Diego area with a charitable foundation called the Junior Seau Foundation. He set the standard in philantrophy for NFL players on and off the field.
Full name Tiaina Baul Seau Junior, he is one of the greatest American Football players and a sports icon after an illustrious 20 seasons career. Drafted by the NFL in 1990, he played for the San Diego Chargers for 13 years. This was followed by three years with the Miami Dolphins, then the New England Patriots for four years before retiring in 2009.
Of Samoan descent, Seau played college football at the University of Southern California. He was taken by the San Diego Chargers as the fifth overall pick of the 1990 NFL Draft. Seau starred for 13 seasons for the Chargers before being traded to the Miami Dolphins, where he spent three before four final ones with the New England Patriots.
A future NFL Hall of Fame player, by the time Junior Seau retired from pro-football aged 4O, he had played more than 280 games, more than 56 sacks, and more than 1500 tackles in a 20-seasons career. An extraordinary feat for a footballer considering how short pro-football NFL careers can be.
On Wednesday at around 9:35 in the morning, his body was found by his live-in girlfriend Megan Noderer in his oceanside $3 million home. His death has been ruled as a suicide by the San Diego County Coroner’s office.
It occurs now, the day after Seau died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, that, contrary to an already formed opinion, it wasn’t football that killed him. It was not playing football.
Whatever is to be discovered about the state of his affairs or his nervous system, it’s clear that Junior Seau had an easier time being in the game than away from it. He survived 20 NFL seasons, but less than 2 1/2 years of retirement.
He was 43, most of his life spent within a few square miles in this working-class beach town. Troxel once asked him why he worked so hard — this was a kid, mind you, who’d be putting himself through drills before the coaches even got to practice.
“I want this community to be proud of me,” he said.
Fox Sports Mark Kriegel on NFL Seau embraced hometown, and vice versa
Two days earlier, was Junior Seau holed up in his home acting depressed? Apparently not according to news reports. On the Monday morning, he went surfing. In the afternoon, he was playing at a charity golf event, joking with his golfing partners and according to the Los Angeles Time news report, “sought out course workers to pose for pictures with him and seemed like a retired NFL superstar without a care”. On Tuesday, his mother said at a press conference that they tried to visit or see their son but he was said to be out-of-town.
Junior Seau leaves behind three teenage children – two sons and a daughter- aged 12 to 18 – to his ex-wife Gina Deboer Seau. He also has one other child. His ex-wife said to San Diego reporters that Junior texted her and each of their three children separate messages of ” I love you” on the Tuesday, the day before he took his own life. His eldest son 16-year-old Jake Ryan can be seen in news camera footage, moments after arriving at the house breaking through police to get inside the house to see his father.
Former Chargers linebacker Gary Plummer, who played alongside Seau and remained close to him after their careers ended, had lingering doubts after the SUV accident. In fact, he reached out to his old friend in hopes of offering him safe haven.
“I called him and offered up my home just as a kind of an escape for him,” said Plummer, who lives in San Diego. “I knew that the media would be at his house. He said, ‘Hey, I’m good. I just fell asleep at the wheel. No worries. I got this.’”
Plummer has heard that type of talk before. It’s all part of the linebacker lexicon.
“Your entire life, that is probably your most revered characteristic as a player — your toughness, your ability to handle pain, your ability to overcome adversity,” he said. “And you take that to a mental level as well. You’ve got to be mentally tough, you’ve got to overcome. Just block out this pain. It’s taught from coaches from the time you’re in Pop Warner. I’ve done it myself as a coach, coaching my kids through high school.
“So it’s not a stretch to be able to understand that in a player’s mind, having mental issues or feeling depressed is weakness in your own mind. So the only thing you know how to do is fight through it and pretend like it doesn’t exist.”
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