Junior Seau was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame last night. Seau, a linebacker who spent 20 years in the NFL primarily for the San Diego Chargers, committed suicide and was found dead on May 2, 2012. He wanted his daughter, Sydney Seau, to speak if he was ever elected into the hall. The Hall, citing a five-year old policy of not letting others speak for inductees, would not let Sydney speak for her father.
The New York Times published the speech Sydney would have given in its August 8th issue. The speech itself, aside from date, does not fully address the medical issues surrounding Junior’s death. Sydney would have delivered an emotional speech about her father, yet the Hall and NFL did not allow this. This should have been an exception to discuss the problems with the game.
“What keeps coming to mind when I think of him is the fact that he was basically superhuman. On the field he was relentless, hard-hitting, passionate and unstoppable. Off the field he was caring, gentle, hilarious and generous. On top of that he played within the league for 20 years, and that in itself is pretty exceptional.
But I think what we tend to forget about our favorite invincible, unstoppable, indestructible superhumans is the minor detail that they are also human. That is something that we all must endure today without his physical presence. We cannot celebrate his life and achievement without feeling the constant piece that’s missing.”
-Excerpt from Sydney Seau’s prepared speech
Junior Seau gave his life and body to the game and the game would not even let his daughter speak for him. Instead, a video tribute was shown and Sydney was presented with a plaque. Junior’s death, the result of brain damage, needed to be discussed last night. Sydney needed to speak. Her words showed that her father loved the game and that it consumed him at times. Her words could have been the beginning of a bigger discussion of the risks in America’s most popular game.