By Connie Wardman
Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, always a fan favorite, will be one of eight former NFL players to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (HOF). The induction ceremony will take place on August 8 in Canton, Ohio.
But Seau’s family won’t be speaking during the event due to a HOF policy regarding deceased inductees. It initially stirred some controversy when it was reported that the HOF will only show a video of Seau’s NFL career. It’s especially sad because he had always wanted his daughter, Sydney to introduce him if he was ever voted to receive professional football’s highest honor.
Goodness knows, Seau earned this honor over his 20-year career. Playing for three different teams, he spent his last 13 seasons with the Chargers where he was a six-time first-team All-Pro. But in May 2012 the 43-year-old was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In July 2012 the National Institutes of Health issued a finding that Seau suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
A brain injury that is linked to issues of personality changes, depression and irritability, CTE is often found in the brains of athletes who were involved in contact sports where concussions are considered part of playing the game. This past April the NFL reached a settlement to resolve many concussion lawsuits, an act that could result in a cost to the league of up to $1 billion over 65 years.
Following his death, Seau’s family took the league to task for failing to properly protect and help its players who are dealing with the effects of head trauma, and in January 2013 they filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NFL. But it turns out that prohibiting his family from speaking at the ceremony is not an intentional snub of Seau or of his family.
According to HOF spokesperson Joe Horrigan, in the past presenters spoke for deceased inductees. But they often repeated what was in the video, thereby prolonging a ceremony that was already lengthy. So a few years ago, the Hall decided to eliminate speeches in these cases.
Seau’s daughter Sydney has said “It’s frustrating because the induction is for my father and for the other players, but then to not be able to speak, it’s painful.” She said her speech would have been what her father would have said, not about the concussion controversy or the family’s lawsuit. However, Jim Trotter of ESPN reports that Sydney and the HOF had a recent conversation about the “miscommunication/misunderstanding” and both sides are now “OK” with following the HOF policy.
Still, it seems a sad final outcome for one of the NFL’s best players.
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