My heart is breaking for Junior Seau’s family and our community. I met Junior in 1999. He was the first NFL player featured for my show One on One. Naturally, the first had to be Junior: a player who not only electrified the team, but embraced his hometown and his platform to DO good… and not just at a small event here and there, or showing up for autographs. He set the bar so high for what one person can do to change the world, one person at a time.
His efforts – both business and charitable – were inclusive. He invited and encouraged his colleagues, business owners, fans, friends, and family to partner with him to make a difference. At many of his Teammates Luncheons he was the most creative and colorful auctioneer – upping the price of items with a sense of humor and a sense of mission: to raise more money to help and inspire more kids. He knew how important it was to give young people hope. After all, even with all the love and faith in his family, growing up in a big family and a small house in Oceanside didn’t offer some of the advantages others had. His grit and determination to play hard and work hard carried him a long way. And he never forgot where he came from. He never forgot to give back to his hometown, and the larger city that fell in love with him.
I am honored Junior opened up to me for the two shows featuring him, my book, and any time I asked for an interview. Honored, partly as a colleague and friend, but more so because my work about his story and thoughts would be shared with fans: Chargers fans, football fans, and people of all ages who could learn and be moved by hearing about his journey. I spoke with Junior this spring about my efforts for continuing One on One’s mission to tell the Good Sports Story. He seemed eager to discuss those ideas. He thrived on such things, always had great ideas, and was a master at seeing them through. While not perfect, we can all learn so much from him and how he made the most of his gifts and talents.
That it would end this way, on May 2, 2012, is tragic. Why it happened may never be known. There was still so much ahead that will never be. But I will remember him for his life, for his love and for his passion.
I wrote this paragraph in January around the Super Bowl… and quote him from an interview back in 2003 that’s included in my book (page 256.)
After having been to one Super Bowl with the Chargers, and the Super Bowl was in San Diego in 2003, Junior sat down with me for a One on One and offered some perspective. He couldn’t know he would return another time with the 2007 Patriots, or that he would face another tough loss, that time to the New York Giants. But as the Championship game was coming to his hometown, and as we sat in his living room, with lights and cameras, I asked a sentimental Seau: “Is that Super Bowl ring still pulling you? Is that the ultimate for you?” He told me: “I have rings in life.” He listed accomplishments including family, friends, and his foundation’s community work. “I’m proud of those rings. So for me to say that I’m going to give all that up for a Super Bowl? You know what? I’ll take my rings of life. So, am I after one? Yes. But I already won.”
RIP #55. RIP.
For more on Junior’s story and Jane’s experience with him, get her book on KINDLE or at the One on One STORE on this site.