Thursday, May 3, 2012

Junior Seau

Writing update: Act One is underway for my pilot and should be done tomorrow. I know I'm only two days into May, but I'm kicking ass on my calendar to-do list. 29 days to go!

Now, I was going to post about Malcolm again, and I probably will next time, but Junior Seau's death has really been hanging on me all day. When I found out, I was incredibly saddened, and that surprised me because I am not usually one to make a big to-do over the deaths of "celebrities." So, I've been thinking on it all day, trying to figure it out. I can't pinpoint whatever is is exactly that has me so affected, so my best guess is that it's everything, all of it.

It's because suicide is hard for a lot of people to wrap their heads around. It's because after being one of the best in his sport for two decades, at only 43, he decided he didn't have anything else to live for. What drove him there could have been injuries from the sport he loved so much. It could have been anything. We can guess, and maybe Seau even left some answers for us, but we can't ever really know why someone makes a decision like that.

It's also the words of his peers, the testaments to his greatness and to his heart, that have me overwhelmed. Eric Olsen told a story about how Seau let him tackle him in front of all the other kids at a football camp when he was in high school. All the kids cheered for "a chubby kid who didn't even know if he liked football." Now the chubby kid plays for the New Orleans Saints. It takes someone special to inspire something like that, to change someone's life like that. Drew Brees called Seau "the greatest teammate a young guy could ask for." That young guy is now a Super Bowl Champion and one of the most respected and talented athletes in the game. I've gathered that Seau has left his mark on the game indefinitely, and those who knew him will continue to be shaped by his legacy.

It's also what Seau means to me on a personal level. Back when I was ten years old I had a PC game (remember those?) called Backyard Football. The game had kid versions of twelve NFL players, but I only remember three specifically - Brett Favre, Drew Bledsoe, and Junior Seau. Seau was the biggest "kid" and also the best player on defense. I was probably too old for the game because I quickly figured out that if you had Favre throwing the ball and Seau laying people out, you could beat the computer every time. Still, Seau was one of the first professional players whose name I recognized outside of the Dallas Cowboys. I didn't follow his career by any means, but a mention of "Buddy" always piqued my interest. He became a tab in my mental library of all things football, a sport that has been a sizable piece of my life. Oh yea, and he was better at laying people out in real life than he ever was on my computer.

It was just a computer game, but I remember it, and I will probably remember it for the rest of my life. I certainly cannot say that about many other things that have crossed my path in my 22 years. That makes it something of value. Junior Seau is something of value to me, although I won't ever be able to define or quantitate it. He is someone of value to a great number of people, and, to some, he is someone of great value. To state the obvious, he is missed.

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