Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Sad End To A San Diego Legend.

NFL star Junior Seau found dead in San Diego in apparent suicide

American football star Junior Seau has been found dead at his home in California in an apparent suicide.

Oceanside Police Chief Frank McCoy said the linebacker's girlfriend found him unconscious with a bullet wound to the chest on Wednesday.

Seau was a star player with the San Diego Chargers and spent 20 seasons in the National Football League (NFL).

In 2010 he drove his car off a cliff, hours after he had been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence.

Seau's mother, Luisa, wept uncontrollably as she spoke to reporters outside her son's house.

"I pray to God please take me, leave my son, but it's too late," she said.


For residents of "America's Finest City" this news hit very close to the heart. Junior Seau was a fearsome presence on the gridiron of Jack Murphy Stadium. Junior brought something to the Chargers they never had before; a defense.

For most of San Diego's history the Chargers were an offensive marvel saddled with a defense made of Swiss Cheese. This was not too much of a problem in the glory days of Air Coryell; at least until the playoffs arrived.

Then there was the awful Ryan Lief interlude where San Diego sat in cellar with no defense nor offense to speak of. Seau was part of the turn around that made San Diego a contender in the typical NFL mode: strong defense and an adequate offense.

As age and injury took its toll, Seau played less and got hurt more often. It was only two years ago that Seau was finally forced to hang up his cleats for good. Even then Junior never got around to officially retiring.

It looks like Junior was not able to make that transition to civilian life. There is the 2010 incident, and this tragic end just two years later in Oceanside, California.

I wish that Junior Seau had found a way. He was an institution in San Diego, California with his own clothing line and a landmark restaurant in the Mission Valley community of San Diego, California. He had a lot of good years left in him, and a lot of good work to do. Unfortunately, like so many who live too long and too much in the limelight, his demons got the better of him. Far too many in NFL do end up on the wreckage heap. Ryan Lief's entire life would have been so much better for him if he had never set foot inside the NFL; look him up if you doubt the conclusion.

It's a bitter trade off that Seau made. For a time, on the field, he was Achilles in cleats. I remember it well. I remember the plays. I remember the fearsome presence. I remember the heart he put into the game and into the Charges. Maybe he left too much of that heart at Jack Murphy; maybe there was not enough of his heart left over for him. Rest easy Junior, it is a pity that the only peace you could find was the peace of the grave.
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