One of the National Football League's most feared linebackers and decorated players of the last quarter-century, Junior Seau, was found dead inside his San Diego area home Wednesday afternoon. He was 43.
The cause of death is not yet known, but Oceanside police chief Frank McCoy says Seau (pronounced SAY-ow) suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest and they are investigating the case as a suicide.
A large crowd of several dozen people quickly gathered outside the beachside home of the 12-time Pro Bowl selection, many of them hugging, crying and overcome with emotion.
Seau's devastated mother addressed the media, nearly breaking down while screaming "Take me! Take me!"
San Diego Chargers president Dean Spanos called Seau's death "one of the worst things I could ever imagine."
"I can’t put into words how I’m feeling right now. I’m shocked and devastated," he said in an official statement. "Junior was my friend. We all lost a friend today. Junior was an icon in our community. He transcended the game. He wasn’t just a football player, he was so much more
An alarming number of former pro football players have committed suicide in recent years, including former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson and ex-Atlanta Falcon Ray Easterling, who was found dead just last week. Much of the focus in these cases has revolved around the role of concussions the players sustained during their careers.
Seau retired from football in 2009 after spending most of his career with the San Diego Chargers. He also played for the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots.
He is survived by his three children and his ex-wife.