The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the names of the people selected by the Class of 2015 to serve as their presenters and Syndey Seau was on the list as the presenter for her late father Junior Seau.
The other presenters will give speeches introducing the inductees, but the younger Seau will not. The Hall of Fame will show a five-minute video about Seau’s playing career, featuring an interview with Sydney, that makes no mention of his suicide or posthumous diagnosis of CTE. Sydney Seau told the New York Times that she wasn’t planning on making that a focus of her speech either.
“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,” Sydney said. “I just want to give the speech he would have given. It wasn’t going to be about this mess. My speech was solely about him.”
Seau’s widow Gina said she was “very surprised” by the decision, which is made by the Hall and not the NFL, and that the family wouldn’t make it a “platform.” She also agreed that the focus should be on Seau’s accomplishments.
“It’s already difficult enough as it is,” Gina Seau said.
Hall of Fame spokesman Joe Horrigan said that neither the circumstances of Seau’s death nor the family’s decision to sue the NFL for wrongful death were the reason for the decision. Horrigan said “it got redundant” in the past when a presenter would repeat much of what was in the video tribute played for deceased inductees and points out that no one spoke for the late Les Richter in 2011.
Hall of Fame executive director David Baker also weighed in to say that it was the Hall’s decision and not the league’s call.
“We’re not the N.F.L., but the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Baker said. “Our mission is to honor the heroes of the game and Junior is a hero of the game. We’re going to celebrate his life, not the death and other issues.”
Whatever the reasons for the decision in Seau’s case (and Richter’s, for that matter), they’ve led to the wrong choice. On a day when Seau is being celebrated for everything he gave the game of football, the chance for someone from his family to speak in his place is one that should be as much a part of the proceedings as it would be if he were still alive.