LOS ANGELES, May 3, 2012 – Why?
When all the tears are washed away, one question remains.
Why? Why is Junior Seau no longer alive?
On Wednesday, May 2, 2012, a 911 call was answered at the house of retired San Diego Chargers legend Junior Seau. Seau’s girlfriend made the call, but there was nothing that could be done. Seau was dead from a single gunshot to the chest. The police declared it a suicide.
As of now, one of the greatest to ever play for the Lightning Bolts is now with the ultimate dispenser of lightning bolts in the sky.
The day could have been a day to celebrate baseball. A California Angels pitcher threw a no-hitter.
The day could have been a day to celebrate hockey. The New York Rangers won a thriller in triple overtime.
For those who see politics as a sport, it could have been about a presidential candidate dropping out. Normally that would be news.
The day even could have been about the National Football League, but in a different way. Four players on the New Orleans Saints teams from 2009 through 2011 were suspended for participating in a bounty scandal. Jonathan Vilma was suspended for the entire 2012 season.
With all due respect to those involved in those other events, all of that is window dressing on this day. In the coming days those stories will be analyzed, and they deserve rich discussion.
Just not today.
Today is a day to mourn Junior Seau. It is also a day to ask a question.
Why would a man at age 43 who seemingly had everything take his own life?
Why would a man who loved his mother leave her crying to the world only several days before Mother’s Day?
The whole world heard her words.
“I pray to God! Take me! Take me! Leave my son!”
Why, Junior? Why?
He played twenty years in the National Football League. Think about that. The average NFL career lasts three years. He played for two decades.
Yet in an era where many athletes have been less than heroic off the field, Junior Seau was a solid citizen. Even after being traded away from the Chargers, he maintained strong ties to the San Diego community. His restaurant was always a popular hangout. He raised millions for charitable causes. He genuinely cared about people.
So again, why?
Was it financial trouble?
Many successful people despair if they lose it all. To fall from the penthouse is much worse than from the basement.
Was in his love life?
He had an altercation with his girlfriend in 2010 resulting in an arrest. Driving home from the police station his car veered off an embankment. He miraculously survived, and police said the evidence corroborated his story that it really was just an accident. No drugs or alcohol were involved. Charges against him were dropped in all matters.
Was it a Dave Duerson situation?
Former Chicago Bears defensive standout Dave Duerson shot himself several months ago in the chest. The fatal wound was inflicted purpousefully so science could study his brain to see if injuries related to football caused his health to deteriorate. Duerson’s theory was validated.
Was Junior Seau suffering brain damage?
Was this simply a case of severe depression?
Maybe Junior Seau was unprepared for the rest of his life. The highs of being on a football field can be replaced with severe lows for those unable to adapt to life after football.
In the coming days and weeks, these questions will matter.
Right now, none of it does.
What matters is that two people suffered through every parent’s worst nightmare. Their beloved child pre-deceased them.
What matters is that several children no longer have their father. The day before his death he texted them to tell them he loved them. Then he was gone.
What matters is that an entire culture lost one of their greatest sources of cultural pride. Junior Seau was a Samoan, and the entire Samoan community is in shock.
What matters is that America’s Finest City lost one of their finest citizens. San Diego lost one of their greatest athletes in city history.
What matters is that the National Football league fraternity saw many players lose one of their own. Marcellus Wiley cried his eyes out on television, unable to comprehend why his former teammate did not ask for help.
So many people loved him. Why did he not ask for help? Was he too proud? Was he ashamed?
We may never know.
My memories of Junior Seau involve two games between the Chargers and the Oakland Raiders (2000). The Raiders that year were one of the best teams in the NFL, finishing 12-4 and falling just shy of the Super Bowl.
The Chargers were the worst team in football, a miserable 1-15 laughingstock. Yet as a Raider fan, there was no taking the rival Chargers lightly. Seau would anchor a defense that meant a tough game.
The two games they played against each other that year went down to the wire. The Raiders won the opener at home 9-6 with a late touchdown. The rematch late in the season saw the Raiders again survive late, 15-13.
San Diego had not won a game at that time, but they held the Raiders without a touchdown.
That was because Junior Seau was a professional. Even on a 1-15 team, he anchored a defense that cared enough to fight hard every game.
When he was traded to New England, he was part of a defense that saw the Patriots have the first and only 16-0 regular season in NFL history. He would go to Super Bowls as heavy underdogs with the 1994 Chargers and as heavy favorites with the 2007 Patriots. He lost them both, but he never stopped fighting.
That was the Seau I remember. He was a fighter. He fought hard, he fought tough, he fought to the end, and he fought clean.
Yet in the biggest fight of his life, the fight to survive, he stopped fighting.
So many people who knew this man loved him. So many people who watched him admired him. So many people praised him and cried over him. Even the hated Raider Nation who rooted against him respected him.
The first Monday Night Football games to open the 2012 NFL Season include the San Diego Chargers traveling to play the Oakland Raiders. The silver and black will want to beat the yellow and blue visitors black and blue. Yet that will just be a game. It is not real life.
Real life can often be far more violent and painful than any football collision. Former Cleveland Browns Coach Sam Rutigliano was once asked if losing a football game was hard to accept.
Mr. Rutigliano had tragically lost his child in an automobile accident. Mr. Rutigliano replied, “Death is hard to accept.”
For so many people, the death of Junior Seau is hard to accept. For his mother, acceptance may never come. She will receive condolence calls. Complete strangers will try to hug her, or offer thoughtful condolences online or in person. Her nuclear family and extended Samoan family will rally around her.
Yet the one thing she may never have is a satisfactory answer. She cried out the question on worldwide television, and we all cried with her.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian.
Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.” Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. After years of dating liberals, he has finally seen the light and now only dates Republican Jewish women. His family is pleased over this. Republican, Jewish women, you may contact Eric above.
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Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog.
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