San Diego Chargers legend Junior Seau was found dead in his California home Wednesday morning. He was 43.
We’re told Seau sent text messages to his ex-wife and 3 kids yesterday saying, “Love you.” We’re told they all responded and didn’t suspect anything was wrong. We’re told he last saw his kids 3 weeks ago.
Sources close to Seau tell us family members didn’t notice any signs of depression in recent weeks.
Police first received a 911 call at 9:35 a.m. from a woman identifying herself as Seau’s girlfriend. She had returned home to see him unconscious in a bedroom and suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest.
A handgun was found near the body, and if it is indeed suicide, the manner in which Seau killed himself is similar to Dave Duerson’s death, the former Chicago Bear who shot himself in the chest to ensure that his brain could be examined.
Seau is the eighth player from the Chargers’ 1994 Super Bowl team that lost to the 49ers to pass away far too soon. Eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015, Seau is easily worthy of enshrinement after 12 Pro Bowl appearances, and he’ll now be inducted posthumously. Seau was also a first team All Pro 10 times after he recorded 1,524 tackles and 56.5 sacks over a 20-year career, most of which was spent with the Chargers, with stops in Miami and New England over his last seven years.
The Chargers issued a statement through the team’s official Twitter account:
Meanwhile, family members gathered for a press conference, and a particularly heartbreaking moment came when Seau’s mother said “I pray to God take me first, but now it’s too late.”
When he retired for the second and final time following the 2009 season, Seau struggled with post-football life. He was arrested and charged following a domestic incident, and shortly after he drove his SUV off of an embankment. He later told police that he fell asleep at the wheel, saying it wasn’t a suicide attempt.
Respected throughout the league as one of the best players to ever play the linebacker position, Seau leaves behind three children. Chargers head coach Norv Turner worked with Seau in both Miami and San Diego, and in a statement he reflected on Seau’s leadership and strong character:
“I have no words to describe the passing of Junior Seau. It is a sad, sad day for not only me, but for the whole sports community. I worked with Junior here and later in Miami. I can tell you no one had more character and true leadership ability than Junior. He brought passion to the game of football that was unmatched. His commitment to charitable causes in the community was inspiring. It was an honor to know him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
So now we’re left trying to absorb the loss of another player who struggled heavily in his personal quest to replace the spark provided by his weekly adrenaline outlet. As a player, Seau was ferocious, but as a person he was kind and soft spoken, and regularly did charity work away from the field. The Seau who drove his car off the road was not the Seau anyone knew, and neither was the Seau who met his tragic end this morning.
For normal people with normal careers, retirement is a reward that ideally follows a long and successful career. But for some NFL players, retirement is subconsciously feared, with a deep feeling of loss leaving a void that lingers, and eventually creates a dark hole that can’t be filled.
At some point the demons began to grow inside of Seau, and they seemed to start when he stopped being a demon on the field.