Junior Seau: The Life and Death of a Football Icon
By Jim Trotter
Houghton Mifflin, 2015, 218 pages
Growing up, I wasn’t much of an athlete but I became quite a fan of the San Diego Chargers, the New York Knicks, and the San Diego Padres. I’ve followed all three teams for over 45 years through very little thick and a lot of thin.
One of the all-time greatest Chargers was Tiaina “Junior” Seau (pronounced “Say-ow”). Junior was drafted out of USC by the Chargers in 1990 and played 13 seasons for the team. He was selected to the Pro Bowl after every season with the exception of his rookie year. I won’t bore you with the long list of additional awards he earned.
Junior Seau was a blessed man. Physically, he was the prototype NFL linebacker. He had size, strength, and speed. But he was also an avid gym rat who worked hard to maintain his physical edge. Junior was a natural leader who constantly rallied his teammates. His enthusiasm and dedication were a coach’s dream. Junior reached the pinnacle of his profession by becoming one of the best linebackers in NFL history. But he also gave back constantly to the San Diego community through his charity work.
Junior had it all. Good looks, professional success, money, friends, women, fame, etc. Most men wished they could be Junior for just one day. But beneath the shiny veneer were many problems. Injuries, bad investments, infidelity and divorce, estrangement from his children, alcoholism, depression, gambling addiction, hangers-on. What does a football icon do when he’s too old to play anymore? Junior retired from football after the 2009 season and ended his life in 2012 with a gunshot to the chest. An autopsy showed he was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain condition brought on by repeated blows to the head.
Junior’s Samoan family was very religious and church attendance was part of the routine. Had Junior ever accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior? I hope so. We idolize our sports heroes in America. Sports is a religion for many. But it’s all worthless garbage compared to Jesus Christ. Accept Him as your Savior. Worship Him in all you do in your life. Everything else is just sinking sand.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” – Matthew 7:24-27