Junior Seau was remembered on Friday night as a great football player and a fine man at a public memorial service at the stadium where he played most of the home games in his NFL career, and in a fitting finishing touch, the San Diego Chargers announced that they would retire his jersey number, 55.
The memorial at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego was attended by thousands, many in Seau 55 Chargers jerseys, and it served as a tribute to a man who inspired many during his 20-year NFL career, and whose suicide last week shocked the nation and led to increased scrutiny of the post-football lives of NFL players.
But as sad an occasion as it was, the ceremony was mostly a celebration of Seau’s life. Among those who addressed the fans to honor Seau were Chargers Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts, the great former Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson and Bobby Ross, the former Chargers coach who in 1994 got the team to its only Super Bowl, with Seau as the team’s star linebacker and locker room leader.
Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell opened the service by saying, “Junior, we don’t know if you can see this down here, but tonight’s your night.”
Seau’s 55 was painted on the Qualcomm Stadium field where he played so many great games, and it’s appropriate that no Charger will wear it again. There was no one else like Junior Seau.