By now, you have no doubt heard the shocking news. Future Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau tragically died today, leaving everyone who knew him or saw him or heard of him mourning.
I met Junior in 2009 while I was covering the Patriots, and he was in his final season. It was one thing to be in the presence of a future Hall of Fame. It was another thing to be around a guy who everyone just liked. His humor was infectious, players hung on his every word, and no one loved football more than he did. It was tough not to get drawn in.
When I began calling around today to find people to talk about what he meant to them, the memories were endless. Everyone involved with the Patriots had a Seau story.
Some details really stuck out.
Like CB Leigh Bodden laughing about Seau wearing flip-flops in a club, just because. Who else could get away with that? Like RB Fred Taylor talking about how Seau “would sit at his locker and play his Samoan mini banjo-type instrument, hum his tunes to it, peaceful as can be. Then, he would go to practice and go 1,000 miles per hour.”
Like then-defensive coordinator Dean Pees marveling at Seau showing up at 6 a.m. before anybody to work. “And he’s the only guy working out,” Pees said. “Every day going out to practice, it was like, ‘OK, this is my first day.’ ” And of course, there were the pre-game speeches, which led CB Darius Butler to want to run through a wall. “Just him coming to work with that passion was special,” Butler said.
Junior Seau will be missed.