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Saints’ Eric Olsen offers a great Junior Seau memory

FILE:  Junior Seau Reportedly Found Dead Getty Images

Scores of NFL players have come forward in the hours since Junior Seau died to share their memories of playing with or against Seau, and those memories serve as a stark reminder that Seau — no matter the personal demons that led him to commit suicide — was one of the most respected and beloved players in football.

But the most moving memory of Seau may have been offered by a player who was never Seau’s teammate, didn’t claim to know him well and didn’t make it to the NFL until Seau had already retired: Saints backup center Eric Olsen.

It’s not clear that Seau even knew who Olsen was, but that’s what makes the memory Olsen shared so special: People who had been around Seau said he had the ability to make everyone he encountered feel better about themselves, and that’s what Seau did for Olsen, who shared a great memory of the time he met Seau when Olsen was an adolescent and Seau was a star.

“Wow this is a tough one,” Olsen wrote on his Twitter account when he heard about Seau’s death. “When I was a frosh 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 to 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.”

Those who knew him well, those like Olsen who met him briefly and those who only saw him on TV are joined in grief today for a good man whose life came to a shocking end much too soon.

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39 Responses to “Saints’ Eric Olsen offers a great Junior Seau memory”
  1. vincentvega513 says: May 2, 2012 6:41 PM

    Sad day.

  2. kerc1986 says: May 2, 2012 6:43 PM

    Great story rip junior always like the way he played the game

  3. mikewhorio says: May 2, 2012 6:51 PM

    Moving story…who knew there was a Jay Fiedler football camp?

  4. toddm1016 says: May 2, 2012 6:52 PM

    Great story

  5. nineroutsider says: May 2, 2012 6:55 PM

    The best player anecdotes I’ve ever heard or read. Sad day indeed… RIP Seau!

  6. pftcensorssuck says: May 2, 2012 7:03 PM

    Touching story…….how I wish Eric Olsen had just told this story yesterday, when it might have saved Junior.

  7. sirsupersouthern says: May 2, 2012 7:05 PM

    Crap, something just flew in my eye…

  8. ravenseattheirownpoop says: May 2, 2012 7:09 PM

    That is awesome. Very moving. It’s a sad day for all.

  9. backindasaddle says: May 2, 2012 7:09 PM

    Shocked me when I heard about Junior Seau. He was such a great guy. He had a wonderful personality… open, light, non-threatening. I thought he would be a player that would transition seamlessly into a productive post-football career. This is very very sad. RIP Junior.

  10. rosesacl says: May 2, 2012 7:21 PM

    Can someone tell me why junior comitted suicide? Without saying things like inner demons, unhappy, nothing to live for…. I dont believe any of those things drove him over the edge…

  11. TxGrown says: May 2, 2012 7:31 PM

    R.I.P Junior…

  12. choppinwood says: May 2, 2012 7:40 PM

    Great story by Olson and I’m sure there are many other similar memories inspired by Seau. This is a Very sad day.

    I enjoyed watching Junior Seau play, and it pains me
    to learn of his passing. He played the game with heart and passion. He will be missed.
    RIP Junior.

  13. jteekalall says: May 2, 2012 7:55 PM

    I grew up idolizing Seau. Sad to see that a human life has been taken away. R.I.P

  14. Max says: May 2, 2012 7:58 PM

    Seau RIP#55

  15. TheWizard says: May 2, 2012 8:07 PM

    Can someone tell me why junior comitted suicide

    That’s always the question that fills our minds when these sorts of things happen.

    There are no easy answers, that type of despair is difficult to grasp.

  16. burlyisatruefan says: May 2, 2012 8:32 PM

    Sad indeed. I have never been a fan of Jr’s teams but I have always admired his game. I saw him at an Oceancide, CA. 4th of July parade as he was the grand marshall. I marveled at his physique as well as the size of his hands. His heart must have been equally as huge. I remember the Patriot game when he broke his arm and I watched them cart him off the field holding his broken arm with his good arm and still smiling at the fans. He must have been alergic to pain.

    I think it was Jr. that came to the rescue of Ryan Leaf when Ryan had the locker room meltdown with the press. I know Jr. thought Leaf was a putz but he came to his aid and did what he could to diffuse that bad situation that the putz Leaf got himself into. That is a good man that would do that. He didn’t have to. I think it was Jr. It’s hard to retain memeries of Leaf events. They are so disturbing.

    RIP Jr. Whatever pain you endured I hope for eternal peace for you now.

  17. t3dstrik3r says: May 2, 2012 8:34 PM

    rosesacl:

    Only Junior Seau really knows why. The fact is, depression is an illness, and it causes death just like other illnesses can cause death. It causes heart problems, dietary problems, and suicide, among other things.

    It impossible for someone who isn’t clinically depressed to really understand. For some people, every single day of their life is spent in misery and darkness. At some point, the finality of death, and the end of their suffering, begins to look enticing compared to remaining in so much pain.

  18. PriorKnowledge says: May 2, 2012 8:35 PM

    RIP Jr.

    For those who don’t understand depression, you don’t know the utter misery each day brings and total complete hopeless feelings. Tho some might say, “How could he do this?” People with depression might say, “How did he last so long?”

  19. tomsd1 says: May 2, 2012 8:51 PM

    Here is what I just wrote to a friend who saw the pic I had with Junior about two weeks ago at the Trojan Club of San Diego Spring Coaches dinner with Coach Kennedy Pola asking Junior to come out and warm up the crowd – which he did in spades.

    ……….He was incredibly upbeat/dynamic – talking about “family” at a USC dinner about two weeks ago. Who knows what went wrong?
    Concussion damage with maybe drugs (prescription or otherwise/) further doing harmful work on the brain, the high profile restaurant perhaps not doing doing as good as it used to, whatever.

    Oh – will he be missed.

  20. Lonely Libertarian says: May 2, 2012 9:04 PM

    He was the only Patriot I ever liked…

    Great player and competitor..

    Gone too soon…

  21. tony420 says: May 2, 2012 9:05 PM

    Great

  22. ricksaints says: May 2, 2012 9:09 PM

    He was one of the reasons I became a football fan. I remember him coming to my elementary class. Giving kids free k swiss. I’m a 32 year old man now. Saw him a few years ago at his restaurant. Having a good time greeting fans. It’s an amazing day today. Extremely sad. I wish his family peace on this sad day. RIP #55

  23. tomsd1 says: May 2, 2012 9:17 PM

    Uno Mas: Junior was HUGE in the community for his charity events/participation. It was rare when he turned down a request for help.

    And I still remember him from high school – as also a great basketball player – the Player of the Year in SD his senior year in high school.

    Two weeks ago – I told him I loved his Moma’s Teriaki Chicken – a dish he proudly served at his restaurant – and he just beamed at that.

    Via Con Dios Junior.

  24. medialovesthecowboys says: May 2, 2012 9:45 PM

    Got a little choked up reading this.

  25. nzyme says: May 2, 2012 10:43 PM

    What a great story! RIP Junior.

  26. patsfiend says: May 2, 2012 11:09 PM

    Bruschi had a good story about him on ESPN radio, too. Said that the Pats trainers came to him to see if he could “talk to Junior” because Junior was showing up at the stadium at 4 or 5 in the morning to work out… and it was forcing them to get up earlier than they needed to. And that was after Junior had been in the league for 17 years. Amazing, driven guy.

    I don’t even want to know what caused him to do this to himself, to his family, but I’m sure we’ll get all the terrible details in the coming days.

    #RIP55

  27. tramonisland says: May 2, 2012 11:45 PM

    It just pains me to think that no one was able to step in and get this man the help he desperately needed before the end occurred today. There had to be signs of the pain he was going through. Just so so sad. I feel horrible for his family and kids.

  28. johanneschimpo says: May 3, 2012 12:09 AM

    Lord of no Rings

  29. borisbulldog says: May 3, 2012 1:05 AM

    who knew there was a Jay Fiedler football camp?

    ———————————————-

    Who knew there was a Jay Fiedler?

  30. twardyyy says: May 3, 2012 1:48 AM

    PriorKnowledge —

    I am 22 years old and I was diagnosed with depression after some really bad stuff happened in my life, etc. I’ve dealt with it for six long years and it sucks. I’m sad each and every day but I try to stay upbeat and positive. Theres very few things in the world that I actually enjoy, one of which is football. Every day hurts but I try not to think about it and move on. It sucks, yes but there’s nothing I can do it. If Junior had depression, I can definitely see where he was coming from (trust me, I’ve thought about it but I’ve never had the guts to go through with it). Its so sad that his life ended so soon. It’s absolutely horrible. He will be sorely missed. Luckily, Junior was able to do what he loved for over 20 years — some of us can’t say that. He was a great player that did great things on the field. He’s in a better place now. R.I.P.

  31. snikerbotloot says: May 3, 2012 2:38 AM

    Would have loved seeing him in that yellow jacket

  32. tomsd1 says: May 3, 2012 7:34 AM

    As far as I can tell – including all the comments/observations of others who knew him here in SD – there were no real outward signs that Junior was suffering from depression.

    Three weeks ago – he joined other USC greats at the spring scrimmage and is playing the Ukelele – http://www.usctrojans.com/blog/2012/04/6-points-2012-usc-spring-game.html and two weeks ago – he was at our Trojan Club of San Diego spring dinner – where he gave a rousing introduction for his “uncle” – Coach Kennedy Pola – Polamalu.

    Junior just lit up any room he came into – and was doing so the last time I saw him in person – a mere two weeks ago.

    Perhaps the saddest thing is that he did so much others off the filed, not only his own charity/foundation – but also tirelessly showing up at many, many other events. He will be sadly missed.

  33. sixjak says: May 3, 2012 8:05 AM

    twardyyy says:
    May 3, 2012 1:48 AM
    PriorKnowledge –

    I am 22 years old and I was diagnosed with depression after some really bad stuff happened in my life, etc. I’ve dealt with it for six long years and it sucks. I’m sad each and every day but I try to stay upbeat and positive. Theres very few things in the world that I actually enjoy, one of which is football. Every day hurts but I try not to think about it and move on. It sucks, yes but there’s nothing I can do it. If Junior had depression, I can definitely see where he was coming from (trust me, I’ve thought about it but I’ve never had the guts to go through with it). Its so sad that his life ended so soon. It’s absolutely horrible. He will be sorely missed. Luckily, Junior was able to do what he loved for over 20 years — some of us can’t say that. He was a great player that did great things on the field. He’s in a better place now. R.I.P.

     ____________________

    Thank you for the insight. My best friend suffered from depression for 20 years. His doctors changed his meds 3 yrs ago which happens from time to time as I understand. This particular switch proved to be tragic. Despite warnings from his wife to his doctors that he was not doing well, they said to give it a couple of days. His computer crashed and it set off a series of events to where he took his life 3 days after the med switch. Depression is real.

  34. shabuti1 says: May 3, 2012 8:12 AM

    I’m sure that’s over 150 characters

  35. marko959 says: May 3, 2012 8:29 AM

    I’m betting the Seau jerseys will be flying off the shelves, if they are still available. Add me to the list of people who will be getting one. RIP, Junior.

  36. guypatsfan says: May 3, 2012 8:35 AM

    Junior Seau was the absolute epitome of class.

  37. seau55 says: May 3, 2012 7:27 PM

    sixjak says: May 3, 2012 8:05 AM

    twardyyy says:
    May 3, 2012 1:48 AM
    PriorKnowledge –

    I am 22 years old and I was diagnosed with depression after some really bad stuff happened in my life, etc. I’ve dealt with it for six long years and it sucks. I’m sad each and every day but I try to stay upbeat and positive. Theres very few things in the world that I actually enjoy, one of which is football. Every day hurts but I try not to think about it and move on. It sucks, yes but there’s nothing I can do it. If Junior had depression, I can definitely see where he was coming from (trust me, I’ve thought about it but I’ve never had the guts to go through with it). Its so sad that his life ended so soon. It’s absolutely horrible. He will be sorely missed. Luckily, Junior was able to do what he loved for over 20 years — some of us can’t say that. He was a great player that did great things on the field. He’s in a better place now. R.I.P.

    ____________________

    Thank you for the insight. My best friend suffered from depression for 20 years. His doctors changed his meds 3 yrs ago which happens from time to time as I understand. This particular switch proved to be tragic. Despite warnings from his wife to his doctors that he was not doing well, they said to give it a couple of days. His computer crashed and it set off a series of events to where he took his life 3 days after the med switch. Depression is real.

    ———————————-

    I’d been receiving treatment for depression for 4 or 5 years, and was taking a fairly large daily dose of Paxil, when I tried to kill myself about 6 years ago, coming disappointingly close to death, yet only succeeding in rendering myself unconscious for about 4 days. During the time I was out, my kidneys nearly failed, and an EKG revealed that I’d suffered a heart attack. After a week in the hospital, I was released, but didn’t really physically recover for about 2 months. While still in the hospital, I was prescribed the highest dose of a different drug, which I took for almost 4 years, then quit 2 years ago when I lost my health insurance and could no longer afford it. For the better part of those years, even while taking the drug, I thought about suicide on an almost daily basis. Two different doctors (one a psychiatrist) told me that was impossible, because I was on a “very strong antidepressant.” Prior to my suicide attempt, I’d read somewhere that severe head injuries, one of which I’d suffered as a kid, could cause what I was feeling. When I mentioned this to my doctor, he said that he could get me an MRI, but that people my age (early 30’s, at the time), generally don’t have pristine brains, and that anything revealed would be inconclusive.

    This actually got a lot longer than I’d intended, but I figured that since others here had broached the subject, I’d offer my story. I feel terrible that Junior wasn’t able to deal with his stuff, but I also have to think that if he finally succumbed, what chance do I have?

  38. TheWizard says: May 3, 2012 9:03 PM

    A better chance. Now you can see the pain, misery, and destruction such an act leaves behind.

    You can choose wisely.

  39. twardyyy says: May 4, 2012 3:05 AM

    sixjak –

    Yes, depression is real and anyone who says it isn’t is a moron. After finding my mom’s dead body on Mothers Day ’96, almost dying in multiple car crashes, taking care of my grandmother for years and watching her slowly die, etc., I was diagnosed. I was prescribed meds which didn’t work and made me have suicidal thoughts every day. I got off of them, only to be put on a different kind. The same thing happened. I was then prescribed a very strong brand and my doctor told me itd take about 2 weeks to kick in and notice a difference. It didn’t happen so I got off those as well. I’m no longer on anti-depressants and for the most part, I’m happier than when I was actually on the meds. But anyway, depression is a very bad thing — I don’t wish it on anyone. No one deserves it. And I can’t help but feel bad for the people that take their lives because of illness. If Junior had depression, it’s truly a sad thing. A lot of people don’t show signs of depression and that could very well been the same with Junior. I rarely show signs of it and only the people close to me know I have it because I hide it well. If they do indeed do the study on his brain, I’m eager to find out the results. R.I.P, Junior.

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