Former NFL linebacker Junior Seau died today of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Oceanside, California. He was 43.
After playing with distinction at USC, the San Diego Chargers made him their top pick in the 1990 NFL Draft. He was the fifth overall pick in the nation (quarterback Jeff George was the number one pick by the Indianapolis Colts that year). Seau played twenty seasons in the NFL with the Chargers as well as with the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots. He was a 12 time Pro Bowler and went to the Super Bowl with the Chargers in 1995 and with the Pats when they went 16-0 in 2008 but did not earn a ring. Seau retired after the 2009 season at the age of 40.
Following his retirement, Seau starred in a short-lived reality series called Sports Jobs with Junior Seau which aired on Versus. Seau did things such as working as a caddy for an LPGA golfer, on a pit crew for an Indycar driver and as a bat boy for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In October 2010, Seau made headlines when he drove off a cliff and survived a fall of more than 100 feet. The incident happened only hours after he had been arrested on a domestic violence charge. Seau told authorities that he had fallen asleep behind the wheel but in light of today’s events one cannot be so sure.
Early on in his playing career, Seau established the Junior Seau Foundation which has disseminated nearly $4 million in funds to organizations helping children and young adults. Under the circumstances, one can only hope this work will carry on.
UPDATE: As it turns out, Seau is the eighth member of the 1994 Chargers AFC Championship team to have passed away and the third member to have died in the past two years. When Natron Means learned of Seau’s death he said, “Not again.” What else could be said?