Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Updated: October 23, 6:42 PM ET
Seau: Tomlinson remarks meant in jest
ESPN.com news services
DAVIE, Fla. -- Dolphins linebacker Junior Seau insists he
meant no harm when he suggested the way to stop former teammate
LaDainian Tomlinson is to feed him fried chicken and watermelon.
"Hopefully, everyone can know who I am and who I stand for and
that there isn't anything to look into," Seau said.
Dolphins senior vice president of media relations Harvey Greene said that Seau will not be disciplined or reprimanded for his remarks. Coach Dave Wannstedt emphasized Seau meant no disrespect to his former teammate.
"I'm sure Junior wasn't thinking in any type of (racial) overtone and, knowing the type of person he is, I think it would be wrong for anyone to interject that into his comment," Wannstedt said. "Junior is very close to Tomlinson and has a great deal of respect for him, not only as a player but also as an individual. That's why he was wearing (Tomlinson's) jersey around our complex today.
"For anyone to read anything into Junior's comments would be doing him, and everything he stands for, as evidenced by his track record in community relations, a grave disservice."
Asked Wednesday how to limit Tomlinson, San Diego's running
back, Seau told reporters: "You give him watermelon and load him
up with fried chicken and tell him to keep eating."
Seau, who is of Samoan descent, later said he and Tomlinson, who
is black, are friends and the comment was meant in jest. Seau was
wearing a Tomlinson jersey when he made the comment.
"We ate that all the time. We'd have fried chicken every
Friday," Seau said. "I'm sorry you guys took it that way. I
should have realized it was an oversight on my part. I'm sorry it
came out that way."
Tomlinson acknowledged that he and Seau, while teammates the last two years with the Chargers, traditionally had fried chicken on Fridays.
"I wasn't offended at all," Tomlinson said in response to Seau's comments. "You just have to know Junior."
League vice president of public relations Greg Aiello told ESPN.com on Wednesday afternoon the NFL will not comment on Seau's remarks.
Monday's game will mark Seau's return to San Diego as an
opponent. He played for the Chargers from 1990-02.
Seau has been honored in the past for his foundation's charity
work and philanthropy, earning the NFL's Man of the Year award in
1994. He's also scheduled to host a luncheon honoring current San
Diego quarterback Drew Brees for his charity work on Tuesday.
This is not the first time food references regarding a black athlete have caused controversy.
When Tiger Woods won The Masters in 1997, golfer Fuzzy Zoeller
created a stir by saying: "Tell him not to serve fried chicken
next year ... or collard greens, or whatever the hell they serve."
Zoeller was referring to The Masters' champions dinner, when the
reigning tournament winner chooses the menu.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.