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“Chargers president Dean Spanos called Seau an icon and a friend. "I can't put into words how I'm feeling right now. I'm shocked and devastated," Spanos said in a statement. "Junior was my friend. We all lost a friend today. Junior was an icon in our community. He transcended the game. He wasn't just a football player; he was so much more. He was loved by everyone in our family, our organization and throughout the NFL. "This is just such a tragic loss. One of the worst things I could ever imagine. My prayers go out to Junior's family. It's heartbreaking." Seau called many of those around him "Buddy" and often referred to teammates as "my players." "As a young linebacker, Junior was my hero growing up and once I had the opportunity to meet him I saw that he was everything I hoped he would be and more," former Dolphin Zach Thomas said in a statement. "Getting the chance to play alongside of Junior Seau, the greatest linebacker to ever play the game, made my dreams come true. I am absolutely devastated to hear this news. Today I lost my hero, my friend, my buddy." Jason Taylor, who also played with Thomas and Seau on the Dolphins, said he was "devastated." "It would be easy for me to say he was a great friend and teammate, and a tremendous competitor, but that would be selling Junior short," Taylor said in a statement. "Junior Seau was an individual of great honor and integrity, a leader of men and someone with a deep-rooted passion for giving of himself to make the people, the community and especially the children around him better. This is an immeasurable loss for so many. My heart and prayers go out to Junior's family, Gina and their children. I'm going to miss you buddy." Commissioner Roger Goodell sent his condolences to the Seau family on Twitter and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said, "The NFLPA player family today joins with the Seau family to mourn a brother lost too soon." USC athletic director Pat Haden called Seau "one of the greatest legends" in school history. "He will always be remembered by USC as the original No. 55," Haden said in a statement. Seau's greatest game may have been in the 17-13 victory at Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game in January 1995 that sent the Chargers to the Super Bowl. Playing through the pain of a pinched nerve in his neck, he spread out his 16 tackles from the first play to the second-to-last. San Diego lost 49-26 in the Super Bowl to San Francisco. Humphries also recalled Seau recovering Elway's fumble to seal a come-from-behind victory in the 1994 opener at Denver. Seau left the Chargers after the 2002 season when the team unceremoniously told him he was free to pursue a trade. He held a farewell news conference at the restaurant he owned in Mission Valley, and later was traded to Miami. "Junior was a fierce competitor whose passion and work ethic lifted his teammates to greater heights. His enthusiasm for the game was infectious and he passed that on to everyone who was around him. He loved the game so much, and no one played with more sheer joy," Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said in a statement. "Junior was one-of-a-kind. The league will never see anyone like him again," Dee said. Seau retired a few times, the first in August 2006, when he said, "I'm not retiring. I am graduating."
He wasn't just a football player, he was so much more. He was loved by everyone in our family, our organization and throughout the NFL. This is just such a tragic loss. One of the worst things I could ever imagine. My prayers go out to Junior's family. It's heartbreaking.” --Chargers president Dean Spanos
|Junior Seau became the eighth member of the 1994 Chargers, who lost Super Bowl XXIX to the 49ers, to die at a young age.|