Over the last two days we’ve reacted to Junior Seau’s passing, first in the initial hours, and then again yesterday morning as we tried to grasp what it means to dedicate yourself to an intense athletic endeavor for two decades, and then suddenly have that ripped away.

That process will continue over the next little while, as like all NFL fans we’re trying to come to terms with the dramatic personality change of Seau during his brief retirement, and what this means for the future of football. The answers we’ll find in both cases should bring further caution to the league regarding head trauma, and should silence those who still stubbornly believe that players solely assume the consequences of a physical sport when they sign on to participate. That risk allocation shouldn’t extend far beyond a players’ career, and into the area of his life when he should be enjoying retirement, and time with his family.

But let’s press pause on that discussion. Like many, I’ve absorbed myriad pieces of commentary and reflection on Seau’s death, which are naturally accompanied by the scenes of mourning around his San Diego beach home, and the voice of his mother as she asked to be taken before her son is still haunting. Maybe it’s the dog lover in me, but of all the images I’ve come across so far, this one really sticks:

The caption from Getty Images:

Junior Seau’s pit bull ”Rock” looks out as well wishers pay their respects at a memorial outside of his beach home.