Junior Seau, THE MAN, will be missed
May 4, 2012 5 Comments
I’m almost embarrassed to be writing this post so late. I was shocked and speechless when I first heard the news. To be honest, as numb as I was in the initial hours after the news, there was no way I could’ve written anything remotely coherent. Then I questioned if the fact that I didn’t personally know him meant I lacked the authority to write on the subject. But in driving to work yesterday, I heard Colin Cowherd (on his show, The Herd) replying to a tweet in which the writer stated something along the lines of “No extraordinary man commits suicide.” What?!? With the wounds still very much fresh in the heart of the thousands–not hundreds, thousands– of people, he had the audacity to say something like that!?!
So, even though I’m certain that I will fall well short of expressing what I and many others feel about Junior Seau, this is my humble and brief attempt to do so.
To the NFL community he was as fierce a competitor as there has ever been. His credientials–12 Pro Bowls, the 1992 Defensive Player of the Year, and a member of the 1990s All Decade Team–are as impressive as they come and all but guarantee first-time-ballot election into the Hall of Fame. To his teammates (Chargers, Dolphins, Patriots), he was humble, engaging, and he always led by example. In fact, his workout regimen is still legendary, born from a work ethic woven deep into his American Samoan roots. Furthermore, interviews with many of his former teammates over the last couple of days reveal a man that was as comfortable and willing to talk to the team equipment guy or janitor as he was to the General Manager or owner. But to his loving family, he was Tiaina Baul Seau, Jr., a father, brother, and son. Indeed, watching his mother cry upon hearing the news of the death of her son (something a parent should never have to experience) was nothing short of heart wrenching. And true evidence of the admiration many felt for him are the hundreds of bouquets of flowers outside of his Oceanside home. One of the many people, just one member of the huge community touched by his kindness, who came to pay his respects, may have said it best. “You’d see him around town, at a restaurant, or getting gas,” the gentleman said. “And to us, he was just Junior.”
I grew up, and am still, a die-hard Cowboys, not Chargers, fan. I dreamed of and played cornerback my whole childhood. Not linebacker. And as I said before, I have never met Junior Seau in person. But like the thousands of kids he’s helped through the Junior Seau Foundation, albeit probably not as dramatically, he touched me. When I saw him play, I saw what it meant to give all of yourself to the game of football. When I watched his interviews and saw how unassuming and down-to-Earth he was, I saw what it meant to be well rounded and a man of integrity and inner strength. And the occasional glimpse into his personal life provided a model for me and other fathers and fathers-to-be to follow.
Indeed, his actions spoke loudly and the message was received by many. Like I believe and try to live my life, Junior Seau exemplified what it means to share with the world every gift that God has given you. To use every ounce of talent, Seau proved, is an obligation. To share the gifts we have been given with others, he revealed, is a responsibility. And the fact that Junior Seau lived his way too short of a life embodying that message proves that he was, without question, an extraordinary man. No matter what that fool who tweeted to Colin Cowher said.