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Friday, August 18, 2006
Updated: August 19, 11:48 PM ET
Seau ends four-day retirement, joins Patriots

Associated Press

The way Junior Seau looks at it, he's now in graduate school.

Seau returned to the NFL on Friday after a four-day retirement, trading surfing in San Diego for a one-year contract with the New England Patriots that the 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker hopes will pay off with a long-sought Super Bowl ring.

Glory is fleeting ...
and so is retirement
• Mark Kreidler used to pull for the perfect ending for great athletes -- until he realized what a myth it is in sports. Now, he writes, Junior Seau is crossing into Last Gasp Territory. Story

• It's not the first time the New England Patriots have taken a veteran no one else wanted. But Len Pasquarelli says Friday's addition of Seau smacks of desperation. Story

"I'm going after my master's now," the jet-lagged Seau said in a conference call.

That was a reference to his lavish retirement ceremony Monday at the San Diego Chargers' headquarters when he said: "I'm not retiring. I am graduating."

The 37-year-old Seau said then that no teams wanted or needed him. But he didn't rule out coming back if the right situation came up.

Seau said the Patriots called on Tuesday. New England needed another linebacker because Tedy Bruschi has a broken wrist, although he's been out since July 31. Chad Brown and Monte Beisel also are hurt, and Willie McGinest, a mainstay of the Patriots' three Super Bowl titles in four seasons, signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent.

"When a championship team calls, you've definitely got to answer the call and definitely look into it," Seau said. "That's what I did.

"Obviously we understand where their focus is, to win championships," Seau said. "That's something that I'm missing in my career. I just felt it was an opportunity I needed to seize."

Seau made it to the Super Bowl in his fifth season, but the Chargers were humiliated by the San Francisco 49ers, 49-26. San Diego limped into the playoffs in 1995 before losing at home to Indianapolis in a wild-card game.

Seau hasn't been back to the postseason since.

He will be reunited with safety Rodney Harrison, his teammate for nine seasons in San Diego. The Chargers dumped Harrison after the 2002 season. He signed with New England and promptly won two Super Bowl rings.

"Rodney lobbed a couple of calls," Seau said. "He'll probably get a finder's fee."

Seau wasn't sure what role he'll have under coach Bill Belichick. But he's played both inside and outside linebacker, and he said he didn't go to New England to have a limited role.

"Wherever I fit is obviously going to be to their liking and mine," he said.

Last season at Miami, Seau played for Nick Saban, a Belichick protege.

"I've been through 16 years of this," Seau said. "I went through Nick Saban's playbook. There's some similarities. There's going to be some wrinkles and a learning curve. There's nothing that I won't be able to grasp."

Seau was asked about the prospects of the Chargers and Patriots meeting in the playoffs.

"I think that would be a delight for both Rodney and I," he said. "It would make for a great story, anyway.

"It was definitely a homecoming when I saw Rodney," Seau said. "Honestly there was a hug and some joyful cheers when we met. We have a lot of respect for each other. We've definitely seen each other grown up."

New England lost to Denver in the divisional playoffs last season.

The Chargers traded Seau to the Miami Dolphins in April 2003 for a fifth-round draft choice. In his first year with Miami, he started 15 games and finished second on the team with 133 tackles. But injuries cut short his last two seasons.

"Obviously leaving the last two years with injuries was not satisfying," he said.

Seau grew up in suburban San Diego and starred at Southern California before the Chargers took him fifth overall in the 1990 draft. He's played in 230 games -- the most of any active NFL linebacker -- with 227 starts and 1,724 career tackles.

Seau said his last piece of business will be to ask McGinest his permission to wear jersey No. 55.

"I definitely respect Willie and the franchise here," said Seau, who wore No. 55 at USC before McGinest did. "I'll definitely lob him a call and ask if I can wear his number. I'll respect him in that way."

Also Friday, the Patriots signed tight end Chris Luzar and released tight end Walter Rasby, an 11-year veteran.