SAN DIEGO, CA - FILE: Junior Seau #55 linebacker for the San Diego Chargers watches the offense work versus the Seattle Seahawks in their preseason game on August 16, 2002 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. According to reports May 2, 2012, Seau, 43, was found dead in his home in Oceanside, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
I don't really even know where the best starting point is. For today's developments, I would suggest you start with the SB Nation page on Seau's death.
Why me? Why here? For me, I've been a Charger fan since '79. This is really sad on a lot of levels for me. He was and is an icon for my NFL team, the Chargers. When Dan Fouts and Charlie Joiner retired, so did the Chargers. 3-13, 4-12, those were normal results until Seau came along and energized that team and city. So to me, Junior Seau is someone special. Irregardless of anything else, he did this. You could actually wear the team gear out in public again. He made the Chargers relevant.
It's sad that his only Super Bowl with the Chargers was one of the most convincing losses in the history of the NFL. But it was something Fouts & Company could never reach. Seau eventually moved on before he retired. His legacy still remains, though. The perception of San Diego is completely different around the NFL now compared to his arrival.
There's been an incredible rush to speculate about the circumstances of his death. That isn't really anything new. Obviously there is much talk of suicide. Depression, concussions, these are also some things being batted around. For this story, and right now, the first order of business is that we send our condolences to his family and friends. I can't imagine the grief they are going through. Let alone the media frenzy surrounding his death.
The impact depression and concussions played in Junior's death may never be known. There's no good answer. People are hurt and shocked by his death. It's not even something I would have considered before today. No matter how thoroughly you follow someone's career. You don't know. But you know people are hurt by it. And for me, I'd like to think there is something good that can come out of it.
Depression is a peculiar thing, if you don't have any experience with it. It can be an incredibly strong motivator. But it can also amplify the tiniest of problems into something quite different. The vicious cycle takes over, and where you end up is anyone's guess. Having something you excel at, like football, is a gift and a curse. You can wrap yourself up in it, but you can't stay forever. Sooner or later, you have to move on to something else.
I don't presume to know anything about the inner workings of Seau's mind. But I think some things need to be said in times like these. The tragic loss of someone so popular could be the catalyst for someone else to seek help. That's an opportunity to valuable to let pass.
Concussions are a whole other beast. But if depression already existed, the loss of physical prowess followed by the loss of some mental capacity would be nearly cataclysmic. To me, it seems to be so much about confidence. Dealing with stressful situations is so much easier. When you're all tapped out on confidence, for whatever reason, it's so much easier to just try to avoid everything and everyone. Seeing yourself fall apart like that would kill anyone's confidence.
The absolute worst part is when you see the people that are actually trying to help you as the enemy. They hurt you when they try to motivate you and they push you away when they try to cheer you up. You're in such a state that you can't believe anything will ever get better. So any talk of that is automatically blocked out. You put up walls between you. You go into seclusion. And when there's nobody but you, there really isn't a voice of reason.
It's ugly and it's painful. But it's not impossible to come out of. If any of this sounds like you, no matter where you live, type "depression hotline" in the search engine of your choice. If you're having problems, call one of those numbers. You've got to say something and open up to someone. Seriously, I just opened myself up to a lot of things. I wouldn't do it if I didn't care. You've got to make the first move to help yourself, though. It gets better. Trust me.