Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chargers retire Junior Seau’s number in emotional ceremony

Posted by Darin Gantt on September 17, 2012, 9:32 AM EDT
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It was the kind of day Junior Seau would have loved.

The Chargers, in front of a sold-out stadium, hammered the Titans 38-10. They also retired the late linebacker’s number 55 in an emotional ceremony, with fans chanting his name as team president Dean Spanos presented his family with a framed jersey.

The team wore 55 stickers on the back of their helmets to remember him, and defensive tackle Antonio Garay even had a picture of Seau shaved into the back of his head.

“I thought it was quite an atmosphere today,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said, via Tom Krasovic of U-T San Diego. “It was awesome. And obviously putting that sticker on your helmet means something.

“I’m sure he’d have loved to be a part of this one.”

It’s only the third number retired by the Chargers, along with Lance Alworth’s 19 and Dan Fouts’ 14.

Fouts spoke at the pregame ceremony before, hailing Seau’s leadership.

“He had it – all of the ‘it’ qualities that make up a great leader,” Fouts said. “He was the ultimate leader on the field for the Chargers for 13 great years and an equally great leader in our San Diego community. . . .

“There is no one more deserving than our friend Junior.”

Chargers coach Norv Turner was emotional as he talked about Seau, who died in May of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. But the circumstances of his death didn’t cloud the respect shown for him, as many talked about his spirit and the way he approached the game.

“Our guys have so much respect for Junior,” Turner said. “Just a remarkable individual. If you’re going to say, here’s a football player, I don’t know if you could build one that’s better than Junior Seau. He was an inspirational guy to be around — not Sundays, I’m talking about a day to day basis, six in the morning, last one to leave in the evening, flying around in practice like it was a game, and it was contagious for everybody.”

Those are the things they’ll remember, and the reason no Charger should wear 55 again.

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