There’s a good chance that Junior Seau will one day be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, possibly as early as 2014. Sadly, should the former linebacker receive this illustrious honor, he won’t be there to accept it in person.
Seau, who played 20 seasons in the NFL, was found dead earlier today at his Oceanside home in southern California. He was 43.
While the cause of his death has not been confirmed, reports say that police responded to a shooting at Seau’s southern California home this morning. When they arrived, they found Seau with a gunshot wound to his chest and a handgun lying nearby. His death is being investigated as a suicide.
Seau, who was born in San Diego, played for USC in college where he was an unanimous All-American his junior year. He was drafted by his hometown Chargers with the fifth overall pick in the 1990 NFL Draft and went on to play 13 seasons for them before moving on to Miami for three seasons.
While in San Diego, Seau was invited to 12 consecutive Pro Bowls from 1991-2002 and also was named a first-team All-Pro six times during that same span. He helped the Chargers get to the Super Bowl in 1995, where they lost to the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX. It was during that 1994 season that Seau was also named the recipient of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
The Chargers traded Seau to the Dolphins in April 2003 and he spent three injury-plagued seasons in Miami. The Dolphins released Seau in March 2006, and he announced his retirement in August after signing a one-day contract with the Chargers.
He had a change of heart, however, signing with New England just four days later. Seau stayed with the Patriots for four seasons, including the 2007 season that saw the team came up one game short of a history-making undefeated season as the Patriots fell to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
The only thing really missing from Seau’s resume is that elusive Super Bowl ring, which he had two chances to get. Otherwise, anyone who watched the charismatic, hard-hitting linebacker play, especially during his prime, knows that he was happiest when he was on the field.
Tragically, that did not appear to be the case off the field. In 2010, Seau was involved in a single-car accident where he survived a 30-foot plunge in his SUV off of a cliff in Carlsbad. Adding to the mystery and intrigue of that incident was the fact that he had been arrested just hours earlier on suspicion of assaulting his 25-year-old girlfriend at his home. He was not charged in the incident.
Seau is just the latest in an increasing number of former NFL players to die at a young age. While more information and revelations related to his tragic passing will certainly come to light in the near future, this day and the circumstances surrounding it will almost certainly come up again should Seau get an invitation to join the other greats in Canton. It’s truly a shame that he won’t be around to enjoy it.