Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Junior Seau - The Darkness And The Light

This hits a little close to home.

Wednesday morning, May 2nd, 2012, it was announced that longtime NFL linebacker, Junior Seau, 43, among the greatest in the history of the game, was found by his housekeeper with a gunshot wound to his chest. It is believed to have been suicide. - 

Seau was a former USC star and was selected fifth overall in the 1990 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He played there from 1990-2002, then spent three years with the Miami Dolphins before finishing his career with the New England Patriots from 2006-2009.

Seau made the Pro Bowl 12 times and was a 10-time All-Pro. He was also on the NFL's All-Decade Team.

“Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now. We ask everyone to stop what they’re doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family,” the Chargers said in a released statement.

Maybe there were signs. That's what first came to mind when I started to digest this earlier. When we think of these types of individuals we think they don't have a care in the world. That they live charmed lives of fame and fortune. That even when they lose, which Seau did in Super Bowls XXIX and XLII, they still have their fans and money to fall back on.

Rarely is that truly the case. Early in his career Seau was nicknamed "Tasmanian Devil" because of his play. It turns out he may have had his own demons to battle.

In October 2010, he drove off a beachside cliff in Carlsbad, California in his SUV and was found in the car on the beach, about 100 feet below the roadside. Hours before that he'd been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence involving his live-in girlfriend.

Seau later said that he wasn't trying to kill himself, but that he simply had dozed off at the wheel.

Like I said, maybe there were signs.

The situations surrounding Wednesday's events do in fact point to a suicide. Per U-T San Diego columnist Kevin Acee, “The gunshot wound was to the chest. It was almost certainly self-inflicted according to someone on scene.”

ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted that the "Chargers confirmed reports on the stunning passing of NFL great Juinor Seau. Sad day. Thoughts and prayers with Seau's family. Police have [also] confirmed Junior Seau committed suicide.

I'm not going to delve too deeply into the ins and outs of the mindset or home life or anything like that. I don't know all of the details, though they may be divulged eventually, and won't speculate any further than I already have.

I'm writing this rather to say that judging or speaking out of hand about this is morally and ethically wrong. Sure, jokes will be made-it's inevitable. But nature abhors a vacuum, as does the mind of a dullard. The only way to fill that void is to callously joke about another person's suicide.

If it seems I feel strongly about this it's because I absolutely do. I've contemplated suicide twice in my life. I even made a poorly executed attempt once.

I've been told many times over the years of my adult life that I'm the type who gives good advice, or at least that I'm a good listener. I'm told how I seem to never let things affect me. I've been told that, aside from when I'm watching my Steelers or Lakers play, I have a quiet calm. Well you know the old saying, "Beware of the quiet ones."

It is that very type of person, though, that has been through much more hardship and gone to lower depths than you or than you may realize. Otherwise he wouldn't have been able to come up with those encouraging words in the first place. He knows them first-hand.

Unfortunately, some aren't able to cope the same way or as well. Some allow drugs or alcohol to befriend them. Some don't feel they have the strength and succumb to those aforementioned demons.

The mind is a vast frontier that has yet to be truly mapped or conquered. So I am most certainly not going to attempt pseudo-psychology and try to stake a claim on Seau's grey matter and reasoning. I don't begin to claim to know the actual cause for this or what he was thinking at the time. I simply remember what I was thinking. And it was frightening.

I had great respect for Seau on the field. Off the field he did have his share of domestic problems, though. Hopefully that won't be the focus of the initial reports.

Let's first remember the brilliant light that he stood in on the football field and not too quickly peer into the shadows that followed so closely behind in his personal life.

My condolences to his family. - John 5:21, 28, 29