"Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now. We ask everyone to stop what they're doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family."
CHARGERS PRESIDENT DEAN SPANOS
"I can't put into words how I'm feeling right now. I'm shocked and devastated. 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. He was loved by everyone in our family, our organization and throughout the NFL. 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."
HEAD COACH NORV TURNER
"I have no words to describe the passing of Junior Seau. It is a sad, sad day not only for me, but for the whole sports community. I worked with Junior here and later in Miami. I can tell you no one had more character and true leadership ability than Junior. He brought passion to the game of football that was unmatched. His commitment to charitable causes in the community was inspiring. It was an honor to know him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."
GENERAL MANAGER A.J. SMITH
"It's shocking sad news. It just takes your breath away for a quick second. Whenever I was around Junior, he was always upbeat, positive and encouraging. When he left with you, you always had a feeling that everything was going to work out great. I will miss his great smile, firm handshake and big hug. He would always leave me and say, 'It's all good, buddy. Just keep doing what you do.'"
DEAN SPANOS (press conference)
"Thank you all for coming today. Obviously today, is a very sad day. A tragic day for the City of San Diego. Today we lost someone very special. I consider it an honor to have been a friend with Junior for over 23 years now. We all know what he did on the field for the San Diego Chargers and his great accomplishments but I will tell you off the field he was equal to the task. He never forgot about the City of San Diego. This is his home. This is where his roots were. He couldn’t do enough off the field for the youth or anybody he could help, he helped. I think people will remember him for that and they should. This is a very difficult time for everyone obviously. Our thoughts and prayers obviously go out to Junior Seau’s family. It’s just a really sad moment right now for everybody."
Have you had a chance to communicate with Junior’s family?
"I have not, but we intend to do so."
When is the last time you saw him?
“I saw him last year when we inducted him into the (Chargers) Hall of Fame. I have not seen him since then.”
Can you elaborate what Junior meant to the organization?
“Clearly, he was the heart and soul of the franchise for the 13 years while he played here. I heard somebody say that no coach ever had to give any inspirational speeches because clearly he was the leader in the locker room. When he talked everybody listened. I think the players and the people that worked with him will remember his leadership qualities as well as his ability to perform on the field. Off the field he had his charities and all his good work he did with the city. Those people he worked with will remember him for that.”
On Junior’s impact on the NFL and his legacy:
“Well, his legacy as a player speaks for itself. He’s going to be in the big Hall of Fame no doubt about that. He played for Miami after he left here and then New England. He showed his leadership qualities up there so I know the players have a great deal of respect for him. I’m sure they’re saddened by this day also.”
How did you find out?
“I was watching the news this morning and the head of PR came in and told us.”
When was the last time you’ve spoken to him?
“It was a little less than a year ago. I had not seen him since the induction last year.”
Can you walk us through your thoughts when you received the news?
“Any time you lose a friend. What can you say? You’re just at a loss for words. Like I said, it is very emotional for everybody right now. You just don’t know what to say. There are so many things you’re thinking about that you did with him through some good times we had here and some difficult times with the team. I think all of us are going to sit back in the next couple of days and reflect upon our relationship with him over the last years, however long you knew him. I want to remember all of the good things about him because there are so many great things about this man and what he meant-and just because he played football here-but to the City of San Diego. He was a great leader in this community.”
He’s been gone almost a decade. Is his impact still felt in the locker room?
“Yes, I think so and throughout the whole organization. It’s obviously not the same players to years ago but he has an image there that people will remember. The players will remember. Like I said, he’s a legacy. He’s going to be remembered by everybody.”
NORV TURNER (press conference)
“There’s just a deep sadness right now in the building behind me. I spent some time going down the hall and talking to the people who were here when Junior was here. Some of the coaches that I coached with in 2001 when I was here with Junior. One in particular, I talked to Carlos Polk, who was a rookie. Came in when I did. And we talked about the impact that Junior had on Carlos. Not only Carlos, but the impact he had on all players that came into this organization. He was all football. He was such a great leader. He was such a great mentor for so many people and he has affected and impacted so many people’s lives. I was fortunate enough to coach with him in Miami for a year and you saw the same experience in a totally different way. He went in there and had a great impact on a lot of veteran players 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’s going to take a long time to get over, but he has had such a great impact on so many people. He will be missed.”
The way that he affected a football team, did that make your job easier as a coach?
“That cliché of being a coach on the field, he was more than that. As I said, he was a mentor for so many people. He taught people how to go about doing their job. How to be a pro. Not everyone has that quality.”
When is the last time you spoke with Junior?
“I talked to Junior. When something like this hits, you try to remember the place and where it was, but I know the conversations I’ve had with Junior have been about this team winning and this team winning a championship. He always would say to me, ‘I’m always a Charger. I went to Miami. I went to New England. But I’m always a Charger,’ and I think the Chargers meant an awful lot to him.”
Why do you think Junior has had such an impact?
“It’s what Dean said. It goes behind (him) as a player, and that’s why it has this impact. It’s Junior Seau the person, not Junior Seau the player. What he meant to everybody, the guys he played with and obviously the city of San Diego.”
How did you find out about the news?
“We were in a meeting this morning, and I think it was (public relations director) Bill (Johnston) that came in and asked us if we’d heard. It’s unbelievable and it’s just immediate shock.”
As a football coach, can you explain why Junior was such a great player?
“First of all, it’s rare to get a guy with his size, strength and speed. That’s the starting point. And then the passion that Junior had for playing and how much it meant to him. That’s why he achieved the things he did.”
Do you have any stories that characterize for you who Junior Seau was?
“When I first came here in 2001 and we were putting the offense in and we had drafted LT (LaDainian Tomlinson) and we had drafted Drew Brees, we’d go out and practice different plays and different formations and different shifts, and he would always sneak out and try to watch the offensive walk-through so he was never fooled or never behind, and then it kind of got to be a game. You felt like you were coaching against him like you might be coaching against a coach. You weren’t coaching against his playing ability. You were coaching against his ability to diagnose. Football was important to him. He wanted to be right and he wanted to win.”
What are the players saying right now?
“I haven’t had an opportunity to talk to players. Carlos is the first guy I went down to. Ollie Wilson was very close with Junior, and I know Carlos and Junior are extremely close, so I went down and spent some time with Carlos. There’s such a sadness, and in time Carlos will think back to all the great times he had with Junior, all the things that Junior meant to him. That’s what you have to do now.”
FORMER CHARGERS QUARTERBACK STAN HUMPHRIES
“The first thing is just the energy, the excitement that he had every day. I don’t think he could wait to get to the facility every day to practice, to watch the game tape, to get on the practice field, to get in the weight room. I know when I came there he’d been in the league for two years and when I first got there, you heard about Junior but when you actually saw him, the youth that he brought out in you was what stood out. I looked at that team back then with guys like Gill Byrd, Gary Plummer, Leslie O’Neal, veteran guys, but then you see this guy with all the youthful energy and I think he gave a lot of the older guys a little fire and brought a little of that youthfulness back to them as well. He played the game instinctively, he studied the film and did some things on his own just off film study that allowed him to make huge plays. I remember times playing with him and also times flying home on the plane with him, just getting to know him as a person. I feel bad for his kids and his family. At that young of an age, it’s just horrible.”
FORMER CHARGERS FULLBACK LORENZO NEAL (tweet)
“Today the world is not a better place we lost one of our legends. Sad to Hear about my good friend and brother Junior Seau Passing. He was a great man to his family and the community he was a great example of sportsmanship and he had such a big heart for everyone he was someone i could talk to I'm at a loss for words this one really hit me hard. I Love you and will miss you my dear friend .To His Family i love you all and you are in my Prayers One Luv Lo Neal.”
FORMER CHARGERS RUNNING BACK LaDAINIAN TOMLINSON
“I don’t know what to say. I’m hurt. It’s hard to put to words how I feel right now. I learned how to be a pro because of him. I learned how to start a foundation and work in the community because of him. I learned how to relate to people because of him…fans…signing autographs. I’m just hurt. He’s an icon I looked up to my entire life before I got to San Diego. Even to this day. It’s a numb feeling in my heart right now.”
FORMER CHARGERS GENERAL MANAGER BOBBY BEATHARD (Beathard drafted Junior in 1990)
“Junior was one of the two players we drafted that I thought if you ever drew a player up that was the complete package, it would be Junior and Rodney (Harrison). Junior was such an incredible football player, and as far as being just a great person, I just love Junior. I’d see him in the summer when I’d go up to Oceanside to surf (and) we’d get together. He was such a big thing for the community. I think a lot of the people that came to our games were there to see Junior. You never had to motivate Junior. He motivated everybody else. He had energy. He played like you hope every player would play. He practiced the same way he played. I haven’t seen…the whole time I was in the NFL…I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anybody like Junior…that had it all. Just a great guy. He loved playing the game. He loved his teammates. He loved life. For the life of me I certainly can’t understand what went wrong or what happened. But I love Junior as a player and as a friend. You always look in the Draft when you’re getting ready to draft and think, ‘could we every be fortunate enough to get someone like Junior?’ Doesn’t happen very often.”
FORMER CHARGERS KICKER JOHN CARNEY
“I’m shocked and heartbroken at the news. Being a friend and teammate of Junior’s was a highlight of my career. The positive influence he spread among teammates, coaches, fans, and even opposing teams is unmatched. He’ll be greatly missed.”
FORMER CHARGERS HEAD COACH BOBBY ROSS
“I’m totally shocked and very, very saddened by the whole thing. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, to his children and to his parents, and all of those very, very special people there. Junior, to me, was the epitome of what a football player was. The words that come to me are passion for the game. Passion for life. Intensity for the game. Intensity for life. Team player. One of the best I’ve ever been around in that respect. Tremendous team player. Tremendous leader. Tremendous leader on our football team. Love for the game. He was always the first to arrive and the last to leave each and every day of practice. Great practice player. One of the absolute best I’ve ever coached at any level. He used to frustrate our offensive coaches from time to time because of intensity at practice and his instincts. A guy that prepared greatly. He was always early in to study film. At the same he was tremendously instinctive. He relied on his instincts. But I believe a lot of those instincts were a result of preparation that he did in film preparation. I don’t know of a player in the National Football League that had a greater effect on the community in which he played, than Junior Seau. The people in San Diego literally loved him. And he loved them. It was unbelievable the way they took to another. I don’t know that there has been anyone that has done that much for their particular community they played in than Junior Seau. He was always upbeat. I never saw him down at any time in my experiences with him. He seemed to be very happy all the time. I think that’s why this is such a shock to so many people because he was such a positive person and such an upbeat person. But I’m sure most of us probably never expected anything was going on in his life. My last experience I heard from him on this golf outing that he recently had. He had wrote me a letter of thanks. His last words were, ‘love you coach.’ I’ll cherish that. I only wish I had been able to be out there with him during that particular outing.”
FORMER CHARGERS CENTER COURTNEY HALL
"My thoughts go out to his family and children. This is so heartbreaking. I have not spoken with him directly in a while, but I will always remember his easy smile, big laugh, and loving spirit. The person you saw play with so much emotion on the field is the same personality he displayed off of it."
SAN DIEGO MAYOR JERRY SANDERS
“Junior Seau was one of the most electrifying athletes in San Diego sports history. He was a passionate figure who gave the game of football – and Chargers fans everywhere – everything he had. His passion for the San Diego region was also felt through his charitable work, which did so much good in so many ways.”
NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL
“All of us are deeply saddened about Junior Seau, a great player loved by teammates who also worked hard to serve his community. Junior and his family will remain in our thoughts.”
NFLPA PRESIDENT DEMAURICE SMITH
“The NFL Players Association is saddened to hear of the passing of Junior Seau, a terrific player and teammate. The 12-time Pro Bowler achieved a level of success on the field that is unparalleled and his off-the-field service accomplishments are beyond admirable. The All-Decade Team linebacker’s career spanned an incredible 20 seasons, and Junior Seau’s determination and passion for the game will always be remembered in the hearts and minds of the fans. The NFLPA player family joins with the Seau family to mourn a brother lost too soon.”
DENVER BRONCOS FORMER QB & CURRENT EXECUTIVE VP OF FOOTBALL OPERATIONS JOHN ELWAY
“I had the pleasure of playing against Junior for many years. He played the game the way it was meant to be played. We shared a lot of laughs from our AFC West battles when I saw Junior before he was inducted into the Chargers HOF in November. Junior was a true competitor and a special player. My heartfelt condolences go out to the Seau family.”
BUFFALO BILLS GENERAL MANAGER BUDDY NIX
“I am deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of Junior Seau. This is such a tragedy and his passing will be felt by many. Junior was a great player in this league for so many years and he embodied that competitive spirit that all the great linebackers possess. My deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences go out to his children and his entire family, his friends, the Spanos family and the Chargers organization.”
SAINTS GUARD ERIC OLSEN (tweet)
“When I was a (freshman) in HS, Junior Seau worked the Jay Fiedler Football camp and at the end of one of the days he challenged anyone to a 1 on 1. Being one of the ‘big’ kids, I was volunteered by my buddies and went up in front of the whole camp to face this monster of a man. Shaking in my cleats, he gave me a wink before a coach gave the cadence. He let me pancake him. And he sold it too. I can’t even tell you how good I felt at that moment; it changed me forever. The whole camp cheered for me, a chubby kid that didn’t know if he even liked football. From then on I was addicted. All thanks 2 this 10 time all-pro that felt like making some snot-nosed kid’s day. Doesn’t seem like much but it meant a lot to me. Sorry for the essay just had to share. RIP Junior I’ll never forget what you did for me.”