Thursday, May 3, 2012

Loss and the Media

Junior Seau died today.  His death is being investigated as a suicide.

My girlfriend and I heard it on the tv's above the bar as we were leaving the restaurant for lunch.  The stools and tables in that area all face the screens over the bartenders' heads.  Every eye was glued to the plasma.... no one was eating... or talking... or smiling.

Junior Seau (Say-Ow) was found by his girlfriend this morning.  Chris Mortensen, on ESPN this afternoon, spoke of business reversals and divorce but he didn't stop there for long.  He and his colleagues talked about passion and intensity and Pro Bowls and the Hall of Fame but the camera didn't stay on any one face for long.  They all seemed to have trouble controlling their emotions; there was a lot of swallowing and pausing going on.

His name rolls melifluously off the tongue, doesn't it?  His football life flowed that way too.  A SoCal boy, he went up the coast to LA and USC before returning to the San Diego Chargers and his birthplace, Oceanside, California.

I grew up in Oceanside, New York.  It always sounded prettier as a west coast town.

Junior married and had 3 kids and divorced his wife and played for the Patriots and lost a Super Bowl or two but that was all glossed over as the talking heads tried to make sense of the unreasonable while on the public stage.

Been there.  Tried that.  It's only marginally easier to watch it than it is to do it.

I did some interweb searching on the story today at about 1 in the afternoon.  The New York Times went for the Big Bad Football angle:
Seau is the second retired N.F.L player to commit suicide in the past few weeks. Ray Easterling, a safety for the Atlanta Falcons in the 1970s and a plaintiff in a high-profile lawsuit against the N.F.L. over its handling of concussion-related injuries, died last month of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The circumstances of Seau’s death instantly raised comparisons to the former Chicago Bears star Dave Duerson. In February 2011, Duerson shot himself in the chest, saying in a note that he wanted his brain donated to the study of football head injuries.

USA Today took a more personal, small town approach:
Hundreds of bystanders have gathered outside Seau's residence. Mourners have also left flowers at his restaurant.

The Seau family is asking their privacy be respected at this time. His sister and mother thanked well wishers while trying to cope with their shock and grief.

"He was a local hero -- he certainly gave back to the community and to the youth through his Junior Seau Foundation,"  (said) Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood.
The ABC affiliate in San Diego went for sensationalism, leading with :
Seau's emotional mother spoke at a press conference about her son's death saying she didn't have an idea that this would happen. Luisa Seau sobbed and begged God, "Take me! Take me!" She said she didn't know who to blame or what she would do without her son,
and ending with :
Seau's personal problems became very public in October 2010 after he drove his SUV off a cliff hours after an arrest on a domestic violence charge. Afterward, Seau claimed he didn't intentionally drive off the cliff but fell asleep at the wheel. 
One could put it all together and say that concussions changed his brain and caused his suicide; certainly the interweb is having a good time with that meme.  One could say that his Foundation and good deeds were merely a cover-up for the domestic violence occuring at home.... or one could lay that at the feet of repeated untreated concussions, too.  One could dismiss the whole concussion thing entirely and wonder why we are celebrating a man who was jailed for domestic abuse and then drove his car off a cliff on the way home from the pokey. 

Or we could just be sad.

If I've learned anything from my experiences with the media it is that preliminary reports rarely reflect anything more than a minor approximation of the truth.  TBG and I listen to the early broadcasts with devotion and skepticism.  More facts will come to light.  More people connected to the events will come forward and, perhaps, share insights and explanations and details.

For now, I'm sharing his family's loss and feeling the pain.  I know just how his mom is feeling.


  1. So very sad and such a great loss. It's amazing how different media outlets report tragedy. :(

    Hope you are having a good day.

    Megan xxx

  2. The sun is up and I am here to see it - by definition (mine, anyway) that makes it a good one, Megan!


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