SAN DIEGO (AP) - Those who knew and loved Junior Seau say they didn’t see this coming.
Like many of Seau’s friends, McPherson was still trying to comprehend the death of the former star NFL linebacker the day after his body was found inside his home in suburban Oceanside with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. The San Diego County medical examiner ruled the death a suicide on Thursday.
“Junior is a warrior. He played 20 years in the NFL as a linebacker. You have to be a warrior. Warriors conquer problems they face and they run at them,” McPherson said Thursday.
“There is no football player _ maybe a punter _ that has not had multiple concussions, I would guess,” McPherson said.
Longtime Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell said he wasn’t aware of any major issues that would lead Seau to take his life, including any difficulties making the transition from the playing field to retirement. Seau played his first 13 seasons with the Chargers before moving on to the Miami Dolphins and then the New England Patriots.
He helped lead San Diego to its only Super Bowl, after the 1994 season; was voted to a Chargers-record 12 straight Pro Bowls; and was a six-time All-Pro selection.
Mitchell said many players struggle once they leave the game.
“Junior was quite the opposite,” said Mitchell, the pastor at New Venture Christian Fellowship in Oceanside. “Junior was one of the few guys with face recognition and first-name recognition across the nation. I’m almost amazed when people say he was torn up and missing the limelight. Golly, for a guy not in the league, the guy was doing contracts and he had a series on TV. He was such an icon and he had three cities, San Diego, New England and Miami, which loved the guy. I haven’t seen in Junior what I see in hundreds of players, and that is a sense of great loss.”
“Again, I’m not trying to paint a picture of everything being rosy. Junior, just like us, had feet of clay. There was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary and I don’t think he missed totally being out of game,” Mitchell said.
In October 2010, Seau survived a 100-foot plunge down a seaside cliff in his SUV, hours after he was arrested for investigation of domestic violence at the Oceanside home he shared with his girlfriend. The woman had told authorities that Seau assaulted her during an argument.