May 2, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; A detailed view of a hat left at the impromptu memorial in front of Seau's Restaurant at the Mission Valley Shopping Center after the news of the death of the San Diego Chargers former linebacker Junior Seau. Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
"Actually, Seau is considered in a league of his own, the type of player who comes along every few decades and changes the way the position is played. The same way Lawrence Taylor changed the way outside linebackers played the game, Seau has sent ripples through his position. His versatility and athleticism make him the best there is, and the three-time Pro Bowler could be the best there ever was."
Those were the words were appeared in the New York Times in 1994, early in the linebacker's career which would span 20 seasons.
There wasn't a more perfect linebacker on the field and he had the personality to go with it.
Today, Tuesday May 2nd, Seau passed away from what is believed to be a self-inflicted gun shot wound.
Now there's no Junior.
"Of all the players I’ve been around, he’s the one who makes you most proud,” former Chargers GM Bobby Beathard told the Times.
“It’s just sad. It’s hard to believe that now there’s no Junior."
It's understood that Seau will be a first ballot Hall of Famer in Canton when he is up for election in 2015. His career on the field rendered six All-Pro teams, 12 Pro Bowls, two Super Bowls and he holds the record for the second most games played at the linebacker position.
But beyond his fierce ability to play the game of football it was the personality and his relationship with the community, in particular the city of San Diego, that made him a universally adored person.
Beathard said of Seau in 2006, "He brought something to the game that very few people have brought to the game -- he made people around him better. He's got the passion that is unlike anybody else. He's just incredible. Besides being a great athlete, it's the intangibles that some guys have, but a good percentage don't have.."
Seau began the Junior Seau foundation in 1992, his message was one of hope for youth overcoming the odds through hard work.
From Sports Illustrated 1993 "In March, within days after a gang member was gunned down in a shopping mall in Chula Vista, a community south of San Diego, Seau visited the mall. Standing in front of hundreds of teenagers and their families, he tried to impress upon the parents that love begins in the home, and he warned the kids that gangs are a dead end. Look forward in life, he told them, because "I'm living proof that you can make it out of the ghetto."
Seau said in March of this year regarding the foundation, "I knew if I could bridge what I was doing on the football field with corporate San Diego, our youth would benefit the most. The focus on youth is because I think we all have a kid in us.."
When Seau was inducted to the Chargers Hall of Fame in 2001, reflecting on his life and the challenges early on as he struggled academically but beat the odds to star at USC and then onto the NFL he said: "The journey in which I had to endure is the reason I'm here today."
At 43, Seau's journey ended much too soon.