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Junior Seau Dead at 43: Facts and Questions

A photo of Junior Seau, smiling, in a T-shirt and looking muscular, at a movie premiere party in Las Vegas

Junior Seau, a hard-hitting and charismatic NFL linebacker for 20 years, is dead at age 43. He apparently shot himself in the chest in his San Diego home.

The Union-Tribune has full coverage of Junior Seau’s death. Seau was born in San Diego, played most of his NFL career there, and retired to a seafront home in the Oceanside neighborhood.

Seau’s parents moved from American Samoa to San Diego in 1964. Key facts from the Junior Seau biography:

– Born Tiaina Baul Seau, Jr. on January 19 of 1969.

– Played football at USC (1987-90) and was drafted by the San Diego Chargers (1990).

– Married the former Gina Deboer in 1992. They had three children: Sydney (b. 1993), Jake (b. 1995) and Hunter (b. 2000).  Junion and Gina Seau were divorced in 2001.

– Traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2003, then joined the New England Patriots in 2006. He was on the 2007 Patriots team that went undefeated in the regular season before losing to the Giants in the Super Bowl.

– Played his last game in January of 2010. Statistical highlights: 20 seasons, 268 games played, 1184 solo tackles, 56.5 sacks. Two Super Bowls and 12 Pro Bowls. And one blocked kick (1997).

A photo of Junior Seau in a #55 uniform, rushing on at an Eagles quarterback

Junior Seau is regarded as a sure thing for the NFL Hall of Fame; there’s a five-year waiting period after retirement before players can be voted in. As a player he was known for his extreme energy and his habit of calling everyone “buddy” because he was bad with names.

Former NFL star Dave Duerson shot himself in the chest last year and left a note saying he wanted his brain to be studied for football-related trauma. That puts a chill on Seau’s own manner of death.

Also chilling is that nobody seemed aware that Junior Seau was anything but happy and enjoying retirement. Here’s a tribute video from USC, with Seau smiling and playing the ukelele three weeks ago:

More coverage of Junior Seau »

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