Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Junior Seau to enter Chargers' HOF
SAN DIEGO -- Firmly in the grip of retirement, Junior Seau will be inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame on Nov. 27.
The Chargers made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon, just before the former linebacker met with the players at the end of practice.
Seau spent parts of 20 seasons in the NFL, including 1990-2002 with his hometown Chargers. He led them to their only Super Bowl appearance, was voted to a team-record 12 straight Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro six times.
"Twenty years, to be part of this kind of fraternity, to be able to go out and play the game that you love, and all the lessons and the friends and acquaintances which you meet along the way, you can't be in a better arena," Seau said.
The honor comes five years after Seau announced his retirement at an elaborate news conference at Chargers headquarters. Four days later, he signed with the New England Patriots.
He last played in 2009, and says he's definitely finished.
"OK guys, I think we're going to try this retirement again, take 2," he cracked.
Seau and the Chargers lost 49-26 to the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl after the 1994 season.
He'll be inducted at halftime of a game against the Denver Broncos. One of the memorable moments in the Chargers' 1994 season was when Seau recovered John Elway's fumble to seal a come-from-behind victory in the opener at Denver.
"All I hope for is that we're undefeated by the time I'm honored," Seau said.
Seau starred with the Chargers from 1990, when he was the fifth pick overall in the draft out of Southern California, until being traded to the Miami Dolphins after the 2002 season. He came out of retirement a few times to play with the Patriots in search of a Super Bowl ring. He was with the Patriots when they lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl following the 2007 season, which ended New England's quest for a perfect season. The Chargers lost to the Patriots in the AFC championship game that year.
Seau said he knew his career was coming to an end when he was inactive for a game with New England in 2009.
"The body wasn't aching. When I knew that the curtain was calling was that I was in New Orleans and I didn't get to dress," Seau said. "That gave me a sign where, 'OK, this shouldn't happen. I've got to rethink this.' "
Seau said all is well with the Chargers despite the unceremonious way he was traded in April 2003 and his quick un-retirement in 2006.
"Everyone has a different way of healing and a different timetable," he said. "I honestly believe that I've never left. I was always here in spirit. I'm always going to love the city of San Diego and the San Diego Chargers."
Only two current Chargers played with Seau, long snapper David Binn and cornerback Quentin Jammer.
"It's cool. It's great. I already thought he was there. I didn't know he wasn't in there yet," said Binn, who's been with the Chargers since 1994. "He definitely deserves it. He was inspirational to me coming in as a young guy. He was the hardest worker in the weight room and practiced like 100 mph every day. It was just amazing watching him work, playing hurt, not even like missing practice ever. I always admired that. He's a gifted athlete, football savvy, but on top of that, he was the hardest-working guy."
Jammer said Seau's motor was always running.
"He practiced exactly the way he played the game," Jammer said.