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Posted May 17, 2012

Chargers President Dean Spanos reflects on last week’s Celebration of Life honoring Junior Seau and shares his thoughts on the new CBA’s impact on offseason conditioning and signing draft picks.

You and the team hosted a memorial Celebration of Life for Junior Seau on Friday at Qualcomm Stadium. What was it like inside the stadium and how was the program?

I think it was very upbeat and well-received. I think there were approximately 20,000 fans there. You could just tell that it was a very sincere reaction by the crowd. They were there to pay their respects. It was very emotional for a lot of us.

What did you think of the program? How were the speakers?

You couldn’t have found six better speakers anywhere. They were from all different parts of Junior’s life, from Coach Bobby Ross to former teammates to Dan Fouts, who played before Junior. It was a great selection of speakers and they all did a great job.

What did it mean to you to be able to do that for the community?

I think it was just a small way to say thank you to Junior for everything he did, not only for the team, but for the community itself. It also gave the community an opportunity to show its appreciation to Junior and support his family.

What was it like to see LaDainian Tomlinson and a lot of other former Chargers?

It was great seeing LT. It was like he’d never left. I know he’s been gone for a couple years, but I know he was happy to be back at the “Q.” I’m sure it brought back a lot of great memories for him.

Between those in attendance at Qualcomm Stadium, the audience on Chargers.com and the live TV and radio audiences, more than 150,000 people saw or heard the memorial service. What do you think that says about Junior as well as the relationship between San Diego and its football team?

I think it shows how strongly connected the team is to the community and vice versa. It’s a two-way street, obviously. It also showed what Junior meant to San Diego. I like how the community really stepped up to show its support for the family as well as its gratitude for everything that Junior did for them, not just on the field, but through his foundation as well.

You announced the retirement of Seau’s No. 55, only the third number to be retired in team history. What was your thought process?

There have been a lot of great players in the history of the franchise, but there are two or three that really stand out. In some way, you’d like to retire all the numbers of the great players, but there are those special few that stand out. Obviously Lance Alworth, Dan Fouts and now Junior. He’s in that category. Not to say we haven’t had other great players, but he was special. He was very, very special.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed a $975 million stadium bill authorizing construction for a downtown Minneapolis facility that will host the Vikings. What impact, if any, does this have on your stadium efforts in San Diego, and did encourage you about your own efforts here in San Diego?

I think it shows that if you work hard, there’s a way to get these types of projects done. There has to be a will on the political side as well as all sides concerned. California’s different than other states, so I’m not so sure just because Minnesota was able to get a stadium there, California or San Diego will be able to follow suit. But I would hope that it would give us some sort of a template that we might be able to follow.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement seemingly has made the process of signing draft picks easier. The team signed all seven of its picks by mid-May. Is this an example of how the new CBA is better for the league, players and teams?

There are many parts to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. That’s one aspect. But surely to be able to sign your players and have them in here this early as compared to previous years, it’s a benefit to the team, the organization as well as the players. I think it’s a great positive.

Speaking of the new CBA, what feedback are you getting from coaches regarding the condensed offseason workout program?

I think it’s going to be an adjustment period, but the whole premise for the offseason was based on health and safety. Keep in mind everybody is playing under the same rules. At the end of the day, I think it’s going to be great for the players. There isn’t going to be as much wear and tear on them going into the season, and I think that can have a direct impact on health and safety, which is first and foremost.

What excites you most about the rest of the offseason and as you look toward training camp?

I really am excited about all the unrestricted free agents that we signed this year. Getting them on the field, and of course our draft picks. I’m really excited about them, especially the first three draft picks where we focused on defense. It’s going to be exciting to see them and how they fit in as we get ready for the season.

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