May 11, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; View of an autographed jersey signed by former San Diego Chargers player Junior Seau before a celebration of life service at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE
The San Diego Chargers hosted a "Celebration of Life" last night to honor the memory of linebacker Junior Seau. Seau, who played his first 13 years in the NFL with the Chargers, died of a self-inflicted gun shot wound on May 2. He is survived by his ex-wife and their three children, as well as his parents.
Seau played for the Miami Dolphins from 2003 to 2005 and the New England Patriots from 2005 to 2009, but will always be remembered as a member of the Chargers. During his career, Seau earned 12 Pro Bowl berths and 8 First Team All-Pro selections, as well as being named the AFC Player of the Year and the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 1994. Seau was named to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 1990s, and is a member of the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame.
He was also an instrumental part of the Chargers' only Super Bowl appearing team, winning the AFC Championship in 1994 (he also made it to the Super Bowl in 2007 with the New England Patriots).
Seau finished his career with 1,849 tackles, 56.5 sacks, and 18 interceptions.
However, the work Seau did outside of football was maybe more impressive than anything he did on the field. In 1992, Seau founded the Junior Seau Foundation, with a mission statement of:
To educate and empower young people through the support of child abuse prevention, drug and alcohol awareness, recreational opportunities, anti-juvenile delinquency efforts, and complimentary education programs.
From the Foundation's website:
Since it's inception, the Junior Seau Foundation has distributed nearly $4 million to organizations providing services to children and young adults. This amount includes funds designated to an endowment fund which benefits, in perpetuity, programs supporting youth with the desire but not the means to improve their lives. Also, included is over $800,000 in scholarships distributed through theScholars of Excellence program and over $330,000 towards Junior's Shop With A Jock program.
While the ceremony at Qualcomm Stadium allowed fans, and former teammates, to come together to remember Seau, and celebrate his life, one of the most touching moments came at the end of the ceremony. The San Diego Chargers announced they were retiring Seau's #55 during the ceremony.
It was a great moment during a sad, but at the same time joyful, remembrance. Seau will be missed, and it's only appropriate that no one will ever where the double nickle jersey again for the Chargers.