Reporting Tim Kephart
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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBSMiami) – The San Diego County coroner had ruled the death of Former Miami Dolphins linebacker Junior Seau a suicide.
Seau was found dead inside his home Wednesday morning from a single gunshot wound to the chest.
The medical examiner’s office says it will determine what to do with the body once a decision is made by the family. It is not known whether or not Seau’s brain will be turned over to unidentified outside researchers for study.
Oceanside Police responded to a report of a shooting at his beachfront home Wednesday. A 911 call reporting a possible suicide was made to police at just after 9:30 a.m. local time.
When police and first responders arrived at the home, they tried to resuscitate Seau to no avail. A handgun was found near the body.
“Our hearts and prayers as a city go out to the Seau family,” said Frank McCoy, Oceanside Police Chief.
Seau shot himself in the chest, which is similar to the way former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson committed suicide.
Duerson shot himself in the chest in Miami-Dade County in 2011. He wrote in his suicide note that he wanted his brain donated to a research center because he thought the hits he took to the head during his career caused him to end his life.
Many football fans want to know whether Seau’s football career played any role in his apparent suicide. The former football star’s death was the topic of discussion on WINZ 940’s “The Amigo and Dizz” show.
One caller raised the point, ” I’m just thinking something about the concussions and the impact it does to the brain.”
Host Larry “The Amigo” Milian weighed in, “This is not a coincidence; this is something that’s directly related to the punishment you take in that game… 15 years in the case of Seau, and how that relates to your state of mind after the game is over.”
NFLPA Legends director Nolan Harrison came out with a forceful call to former players.
“I am PLEADING with all my brothers and NFL family; if you need help, someone to talk to, if you know someone who does, PLEASE REACH OUT!” Harrison said in a Tweet.
Seau’s mother spoke briefly to the media before collapsing saying, “I’m shocked but I appreciate everybody’s over here to show your love show your love to my son. Junior never do nothing for you guys but I say today thank you, I appreciate you guys show your love to my son.”
According to the San Diego Union Tribune, Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell said he was notified of the death and was on his way to be with family members.
Current Miami Dolphin running back Reggie Bush said on Twitter he was in disbelief.
“RIP Jr. Seau, one of the greatest players to play the game! Damn this one hurts San Diego! One of the greatest to come from the city,” Bush tweeted. “You will be missed bro.”
“Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now,” the Chargers said in a statement. “We ask everyone to stop what they’re doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family.”
Chargers president Dean Spanos said late Wednesday afternoon, “I’m shocked and devastated. Junior was my friend. We all lost a friend today….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.”
“I was fortunate enough to coach with him in Miami for a year,” said Chargers head coach Norv Turner, who was an offensive coordinator for the Dolphins. “He went in there and had a great impact on a lot of veteran players there in terms of his work ethic and how much being a pro meant to him.”
“All I can say is this one’s hard, and it will take a long time to get over. He had such a great impact on so many people, and he will be missed.”
Former Miami Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall tweeted, “Just heard about Junior Seau. My heart hurts for him and his family. Brothers & Sisters, it’s so important we talk to someone when things get overwhelming or to [sic] heavy for us to carry.”
Seau played from 1990 to 2009 and played for the San Diego Chargers, the Dolphins, and New England Patriots.
He had more than 100 tackles in the three years he played for the Dolphins and also had five sacks.
“We are stunned and saddened at the passing of Junior Seau,” said Dolphins CEO Mike Dee. “During his time with the Dolphins he made a unique contribution to the team and the South Florida community. 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 player with more sheer joy.”
Dee continued, “Beyond his accomplishments on the field, though, he was as well known for his charitable accomplishments to help those less fortunate than himself, especially kids. Whether it was in San Diego, South Florida, New England or everywhere else in between, Junior loved putting a smile on a child’s face during his “Shop with a Jock” program or during one of his countless school visits. He made a difference to so many people in so many places.”
Dee finished saying, “Junior was one-of-a-kind. The league will never see anyone like him again. He will be missed, and on behalf of the Miami Dolphins, we want to extend our condolences to his family.”
Seau was a key cog in the defense for the Chargers and later provided key veteran leadership for the New England Patriots from 2006 until the end of his career.
Junior made the Pro Bowl from 1991-2002, was a first-team All-Pro six times, and was named the 1994 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year.
But he was a star long before he ever reached the NFL.
While at USC, Seau collected 107 tackles in 1988 and 1989, including 33 for loss. In 1989, Seau had 19 sacks and 27 tackles for loss and was named an All-American and the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.
Seau was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009 and in 2008 was placed into the USC Ring of Honor at the L.A. Coliseum.
Seau’s success at USC started the “55 Club” at USC. Jack del Rio wore the number first and it’s also been worn by Willie McGinest, Keith Rivers, and Chris Claiborne.
“So saddened by the news of Junior Seau’s passing,” said former USC head coach Pete Carroll. “The hearts of the Trojan family go out to his relatives and friends.”
The 43-year-old Seau leaves behind three children and an ex-wife.