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Seau returns to San Diego to announce his retirement
SAN DIEGO -- The Seau punch has finally run out of juice.
Junior Seau retired from the NFL on Monday after 13 seasons as the live-wire leader of his hometown San Diego Chargers and three less-productive years with the Miami Dolphins.
Seau celebrated practically every tackle and sack with a trademark fist pump during a career in which he established himself as one of the NFL's greatest linebackers and helped San Diego reach its only Super Bowl. During his best years he seemed to cover more turf than a groundskeeper's tarp, and was rewarded with 12 Pro Bowl selections.
"It's a great day," Seau told a group of beat writers an hour before his farewell news conference at Chargers headquarters.
"I don't look at it as a retirement. I look at it as a graduation. I'm graduating to wherever I'm going to go to next. I'm the one that got the true gift, the true gift of understanding what actually transpires between the lines."
Seau, 37, said he feels fine after injuries cut short his last two seasons with Miami.
"I'm healthy, I can play and there are teams out there that had interest, but they just didn't need," Seau said. "They wanted me, but they didn't need me. I'm not a player than can play by just wanting to play the game. I'm a guy that needs to win, and they go hand in hand."
Seau didn't go out the way he always figured he would -- as a Charger. The team wasn't able to clear a roster spot to allow him to sign a one-day contract before retiring.
The Chargers unemotionally jettisoned their most emotional player in 2003 because he was getting older and a step slower. The Dolphins got him for a fifth-round pick in the 2004 draft.
Seau said Monday he had no remorse he wasn't able to finish with the Chargers. He mentioned players such as Marcus Allen, Ronnie Lott, Joe Montana and Joe Namath, who didn't finish with their original teams.
"That's the business of the game. I'm not the only one and I won't be the last," he said.
Seau grew up in suburban Oceanside, starred at Southern California and was taken fifth overall in 1990.
Jets trade for Suggs
The New York Jets, preparing for the possibility of life without Curtis Martin, acquired running back Lee Suggs from the Cleveland Browns on Monday for defensive back Derrick Strait.
With the 33-year-old Martin, the NFL's fourth leading career rusher, on the physically-unable-to-perform list because of a lingering knee injury, the Jets were desperate to get another back. Derrick Blaylock and Cedric Houston are 1-2 right now, but neither is the type of player who can shoulder the entire rushing load.
Martin underwent surgery on his right knee in December and has yet to practice. Reports have said he has a "bone on bone" condition in his knee, but Martin continues to rehab. Last week he said he wants to play this season.
Suggs hasn't been able to stay on the field for the Browns, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2003 draft. At various times, Suggs has been sidelined by injuries to a shoulder, neck, toe, ankle and thumb.
The speedy 6-foot, 213-pounder appeared in only seven games as a rookie because of a shoulder injury he sustained at Virginia Tech. In his final game that season, he ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
Suggs won a starting job in training camp in 2004, but hurt his neck in the final preseason game and was inactive for the first three games of the regular season. He returned to play in seven games before missing three straight with a toe injury.
He finished that season with 744 yards and two touchdowns.
Suggs hurt his ankle during the preseason last year and missed Cleveland's first two games. He dressed in Weeks 3 and 4 but injured his thumb and was inactive for six weeks.
Strait was a third-round pick in 2004 but has been a backup in his two NFL seasons.