Seau seeks his first Super Bowl ring
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The 18-year veteran gets his second title shot as a Patriots linebacker.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison are going back to the Super Bowl.
"We have shared a lot of years in San Diego," Seau said after earning his chance to play in his first NFL title game since 1995. "To have the latter part of our careers meet across the country, and to be able to be part of this special moment with a great coach here in New England is special. It really is."
Seau helped the Patriots beat the Chargers 21-12 for the AFC championship on Sunday, sacking Philip Rivers to force a punt and stuffing running back Michael Turner on a third-and-goal to prevent the Chargers from scoring the go-ahead touchdown.
It's the second straight year New England has ended the Chargers' season, and they're not too happy about it.
But that doesn't mean they aren't rooting for Seau, too.
"He's waited for the opportunity to be called a champion and he's got it again. For Junior, I hope he gets it done," Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "I wouldn't say I'm a Patriots fan, but I am a Junior Seau fan."
The fifth overall pick in the 1990 draft, Seau played 13 years with San Diego and made the Pro Bowl for 12 consecutive seasons. He had 11 tackles and a sack in the 1995 Super Bowl, but the San Francisco 49ers beat the Chargers 49-26.
"The first Super Bowl we went to, it didn't pan out the way we wanted it to," Seau said. "I took the scenic route to get here. But we played and experienced it together."
Seau made just one more postseason appearance with the Chargers, then went to Miami and missed the playoffs for three consecutive years. He ended each of his last two seasons with the Dolphins on injured reserve and announced his retirement before the 2006 season.
The Chargers threw Seau a retirement party, and he said it was time for him to graduate from football to other things.
Three days later, Patriots coach Bill Belichick called.
"It wasn't an assistant coach; it wasn't anyone in the P.R. department. Belichick called," Seau said.
"He said, 'I've got a position for you.' He didn't say, 'Would you like to come and play?' He said, 'I have a position for you.'
"That's the world champion coach calling a guy that had just gotten in surfing. I'm going to answer that call," Seau said.
Because he did, Seau is going back to the Super Bowl with New England to play the New York Giants on Feb. 3 in Glendale, Ariz. The Patriots have a chance at their fourth NFL title in seven years, but for Seau it would be the first of his career.
"I don't care if you're a rookie or an 18-year vet -- I don't care if you're a third-grader -- all we ever want in life is a chance, just a chance," said Seau, who turned 39 last week. "Does that mean a chance to win the Super Bowl? No, a chance to win. And when you win often, it leads into greater things. And you learn that during the course of life."
Harrison, who already has won two Super Bowls in New England to erase the memory of the Chargers' 1995 loss, is happy that Seau is getting his chance.
"The way he's worked, how hard he's worked, the sacrifices he's made, going through injuries and different circumstances," Harrison said, "I'm just so happy and so proud of Junior Seau."
Even Chargers coach Norv Turner, who was with Seau in San Diego and Miami, agreed.
"I'm a Junior Seau guy," Turner said. "There's not many guys like him. If you want to have a young guy understand what being a pro, and being an NFL player is, they just need to spend a week practicing on the same field as him."
"He ranks right up there in terms of everything you need to do to play football in the National Football League."