California mayor: Former NFL star Junior Seau dead at 43
By Nate Davis, USA TODAY
May 02, 2012
Former NFL star Junior Seau, 43, died at his Oceanside, Calif., home Wednesday.
"He was a local hero -- he certainly gave back to the community and to the youth through his Junior Seau Foundation," Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood told The North County Times. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."
Citing a source, the Times reports Seau's body was found by a maid.
Responding to a 911 call, authorities descended on Seau's residence around 12:35 p.m. PT. Hundreds of bystanders have gathered at the site.
"What made him tick was the emotional side of it. He played with a controlled fury, was an awesome thing to watch, him playing linebacker," Seau's former San Diego Chargers teammate, Billy Ray Smith, told KGTV-10 in San Diego. "The Seau Foundation ... all the great things he did for kids.
"It's crushing. Quite frankly, it's just crushing. ... I'm dying to know (what happened). It took one of my best teammates away."
In a tragic coincidence, Seau becomes the eighth member of the 1994 Chargers, who lost Super Bowl XXIX to the 49ers, to die at a young age. The others: Chris Mims, David Griggs, Rodney Culver, Lewis Bush, Curtis Whitley, Shawn Lee and Doug Miller.
San Diego native and current Dolphins tailback Reggie Bush tweeted:
"R.I.P Jr. Seau one of the greatest players to play the game! Damn this one hurts San Diego! One of the greatest to to come from the city."
Seau played linebacker for 20 years in the NFL, earning 12 Pro Bowl nods while being named first-team all-pro six times. A USC product, he was drafted fifth overall by the Chargers in 1990 and played for the Bolts during his prime years from 1990 to 2002.
He joined the Miami Dolphins in 2003 for a three-year hitch.
After a four-day retirement following the 2005 season -- Seau deemed it a graduation into the next phase of his life at the time -- he reversed course to spend four final seasons (2006-09) with the New England Patriots. He played sparingly the final two years, joining the club at midseason in both cases, but continued on at the behest of coach Bill Belichick, who valued Seau's legendary work ethic and leadership skills.