All of us at The Matchups Zone are shocked and saddened by the death of the great NFL outside Linebacker, Junior Seau. He was 43 years old. As the circumstances surrounding his death have been coming in throughout the day, reports are that he died as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot at his home outside of San Diego. Making sense of and working to understand this loss forces us to recognize that we lost not only one of the best to ever play but also a man who gave so much of himself to his family, friends, teammates, and his community. Deeply involved in his foundation he was known as intelligent, exceptionally generous, deeply dedicated to bettering others, and never too “good” to mentor, teach, and inspire. Obviously he was one of the greatest to play his position but the more one reads about Seau the man the more one is confronted with the enormity of our loss.
As a member of the AFC West San Diego Chargers Seau and the Chargers played the Seahawks (when Seattle too was part of the AFC West) twice during the regular season. Despite being a die-hard Seahawks fan and as a result hoping that Seau was “picked up” and accounted for, his talent was always felt; recording solid numbers during those years. In 23 games as a Charger playing the ‘Hawks, Seau averaged 7 tackles, recorded 6.5 sacks, batted down 6 passes and blew up countless plays, some as plays made it to him and some in our own backfield. While I did not root for him to have big games against our team I remember always thinking highly of him. He always came off as a driven and aggressive, but never as dirty. One could respect his game even if he was making life tough for opposing teams. After his career in San Diego he moved to Miami to play for the Dolphins and then ended his career with the New England Patriots. He played in a number of playoff games and played in two Super Bowls, the last with the Patriots during their 18-1 season.
His career stats are beyond impressive. In 19 seasons he was selected to 12 Pro Bowls and was a six-time All-Pro. His career statistics include: 268 games, 56.5 sacks, 18 interceptions, 1524 tackles, and 325 assists.
Measuring his contributions on the field goes beyond the numbers. He was considered an outstanding teammate even by players who played just a single season with him. His football IQ was evident and his instincts were superb. Few will ever match his numbers, none will match his love for and dedication to the game; his Hall of Fame status sealed a long time ago.
We have lost an icon of the game. But no one has lost more than his family and close friends. Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with them tonight. It may be quite some time before the many questions about his death are answered. In many ways there will likely be many questions that go unanswered. But it is obvious that there was a strong component of depression that led Seau to take his own life. It is hard to think of our sports heroes as being vulnerable to depression. We like to convince ourselves that success and the popularity of fame serve as a shield, that they deflect the emptiness and pain of depression. But we know that such wishes don’t line up with the facts. Facts tell us–sometimes with painful clarity–that success; even greatness offers no protection and even less in the way of promises.
Our thoughts and our sympathies are with Junior’s family, friends, former teammates, and all of those who knew the man. Before we are fans of our team we are fans of the men who give up so much and put themselves out there year after year so that we might fully enjoy this game that has come to mean so much to us. We will remember Junior Seau for the football player and man that he was and for the many people made better because of the life he lived; a good man gone, far too soon.
Number 55 will be missed.
–The Matchups Zone team
**If you or someone you know might need help with depression or if you believe someone you know might be suicidal, please consider reaching out by calling a hotline or by talking with a professional. There is help available.