Monday, 7 May 2012

Seau long to an NFL legend

I was very sad to hear the news that one of the NFL's true ironmen from the past two decades   took his own life, having played an incredible twenty seasons in the NFL.

Junior Seau was a model player who played 268 games of gladitorial combat, dishing out almost 2000 recorded tackles, 56 sacks and 18 interceptions between 1990 and 2009, for the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. 

Three years out of the game Seau, for reasons we may never fully know, shot himself in his own home, leaving his family, his fans, his former team-mates and former coaches and team staff in s state of shock and then sadness. 

The likelihood was that Seau was suffering from from some kind of injury, bought on by repetitive impact, that of hitting and being hit by world-class NFL athletes. 

Seau, unlike any player who ever played his position that I can recall, played until he was 40, in search of a Super Bowl ring. Remarkably Seau played in only four playoff games in 20 seasons, and only suited up and hit people in one playoff win in his career (a 2008 win as a Patriot versus the Chargers, the team that drafted him #5 overall in 1990). 

I was listening to ESPN radio yesterday and heard a clip from the person who lives with former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon. McMahon won a Super Bowl in 1986 (and another lesser known ring with the Packers ten years later to the day) but today he suffers from short-term memory loss, again likely caused by getting hit in the head whilst playing in the NFL.

The person looking after McMahon fears that his condition is getting worse and to me it sounded like the person fears that this could be the very early symptoms of dementia.

Seau's death may have a whole series of complicated family, financial, business or other reasons, but it is simply wrong that a guy who was the face of the San Diego Chargers for 13 years is now not going to be there to see his bronze bust unveiled at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

I had the pleasure of seeing Seau play at Wembley in 2009 as the Patriots beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I even got a picture of him (see above #55). 

I knew when I took the picture I was photographing a living legend, I am still saddened that photos like this are all that is now left as Seau will not be able to share his experiences of two decades in the NFL with future players, nor will he be coaching. 

It's been a crazy NFL week, what with the Saints having their linebacker Jonathan Vilma suspended for the season for trying to knock people out of games, now we have Seau knocked out of this life.

Plenty of lessons to be learnt for all 32 NFL teams, lets just hope the lessons are learnt before there is another former player suicide. 

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