I wasn't sure if I was going to address this topic on the blog, it really hits close to home but after reading about the celebration of his life tonight at Qualcomm Stadium I felt inspired to share some of my memories of Junior Seau.
I attended USC starting in the fall of 1989. My choice in colleges came down to USC or Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. It came down to the choice between a big school with big sports in a big city or life in a college town with D3 sports. When they marched us into the LA Coliseum with the band playing the fight song and a loop of highlights showing some of the best moments in USC (and for that matter college) football history, I was sold. I had been a huge pro football fan and casual college football fan but that all changed my first weekend at USC.
Seau was a standout on my first team at USC. He was playing his second year (he didn't play his freshman year, I believe for academic reasons) and wore his now famous 55 jersey. Our offense that year was somewhat challenged and very conservative starting Todd Marinovich as a freshman quarterback. The defense dominate most games and I clearly remember Seau being all over the field the first game I watched in person vs. Jeff George and the University of Illinois. I saw him around campus several time and he seemed larger than life.
Seau went on to have an All-American season in 1989, winning Pac-10 Defensive Player of the year and leaving a year early to become the number 5 overall pick of the San Diego Chargers. Both he and Mark Carrier left USC as Juniors that year which really helped start the trend we see so often today. I remember being thankful for the 1990 Rose Bowl victory they brought us but also disappointed to not see one more year of dominant defense. Seau was also the initiator and first of USC's "55 Club," a select group of linebackers - Willie McGinest, Chris Claiborn, Keith Rivers - who have followed Junior's lead and worn jersey number 55.
I have about 650 Junior Seau cards in my USC collection and since this is a card blog, let me share a few of my favorite GU cards I have of his.
Rest in peace Junior. Thanks for the memories and I am sorry for the pain and suffering that you endured to lead to this tragic ending. My thoughts and prayers are with your family. Fight On!