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Thursday, May 10, 2012


May 2, 2012 is a day most folks from San Diego will never forget.  It started off like any other day until the news hit, and boy did it make an impact. Junior Seau was dead, the victim of suicide.  I was totally floored.  How could this be?  I grew up watching Seau.  I idolized him.  I mourned the day he was traded to the Dolphins.  I was actually happy for him that he was getting a second shot at the Super Bowl, despite playing with a tainted team in New England.  At that moment, nothing made sense to me.  I just knew that one of my heroes was gone, and answers will likely never come.

I'm not going to join the concussion/depression debate here.  It likely was a cause, but at the end of the day, it won't change things.  Instead, I'll simply share my favorite Seau memory: his only touchdown.  I actually missed it, because I was at church with my Mom and my brother, Dante.  It was a morning game against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Fall of 1995.  We knew something big had happened, because Dante's pager kept going off (Yep.  That's how long ago this was; Pagers were the big tech at the time!).  When mass finally ended, my Mom dropped us off at our Dad's house, and we rushed in to see what was happening.  Our Dad couldn't get over it.  Seau had recovered a fumble and ran it all the way back for a touchdown.  The whole game, they just kept showing the replay.  Even the announcers seemed somewhat dumbfounded by it.  Can't really say why.  They replayed the touchdown so much, that I felt like I had seen it when it happened!  They were acting as if nobody had ever scored a touchdown before!  Seau would never score again in his career, although he did catch a touchdown pass during a preseason game (In either 1999 or 2000, the Chargers tried using Seau as a tight End!).  Sadly, preseason stat don't count.  Still, the tale of his only touchdown always gets a chuckle out of me.

Junior Seau meant more to the city of San Diego than most non-locals will ever know.  He was from San Diego, having grown up in Oceanside.  He donated to countless charities here, even after leaving for Miami and New England.  It always amazed me how giving he was.  There are now at least two generations of kids in San Diego that experienced his generosity first hand.  It was because of Seau that a lot of these kids got to have Christmas presents every year.  We didn't just loose a man, we lost an saint.

So thank you Junior Seau.  Thank you for being such a fierce and dedicated athlete.  But more than that, thank you for being such a good person and for setting such a good example for the youth of our community.  San Diego will never be the same without you brother.

-Jon Esparza

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