Archive for category Thoughts

The Death of Junior Seau


It’s not every day you see a linebacker stay in the league until 40 the way Junior Seau did.

Depending on whom you believe, the average NFL career lasts somewhere between three and seven years. Junior Seau played for 20 seasons, becoming one of the league’s marquee stars in a career that stretched from San Diego to Miami to New England. Such public longevity contributed to the sense of confusion and shock when he was found dead at his San Diego home on Wednesday, the victim of a death police are investigating as a suicide.

Seau’s accomplishments on the field were both legion and legend. As a linebacker, he made 12 Pro Bowls, six All-Pro teams and guided the San Diego Chargers to their only Super Bowl appearance in 1994. He also developed a rep as one of the NFL’s toughest players, the type who could break his arm on a tackle and walk off under his own strength. There was a legacy of humbler accomplishment as well: the Junior Seau Foundation he established to benefit at-risk youths, for one. But a life of achievement doesn’t whitewash the stunning morbidity to Seau’s death. If this was indeed a suicide, he becomes the third ex-NFL player to take his own life since the beginning of 2011, and the eighth member of that 1994 Chargers Super Bowl team to die in recent years.

Considering all the recent attention paid to the NFL’s difficulty in preventing head trauma, it isn’t hard to make connections between Seau’s hard-hitting style and whatever may have led him to suicide. As Andy Staples notes for Sports Illustrated, his toughness would’ve been antithetical to the league’s modern message of Safety First. “Seau was the type who refused to leave the field, regardless of his physical condition. He played in an AFC Championship Game with a stinger that prevented him from raising his arm above his shoulder. He partially tore his hamstring one Sunday, but stayed in the game despite being noticeably hindered. Another time he shot up an ankle at least 18 times so he wouldn’t miss a game,” Staples writes. “To think he didn’t play through multiple concussions would be naive at best.”

Those connections may be too convenient to make this soon, at least until an autopsy reveals what guesswork can’t. What is clear, though, is that the death of such a recognizable star can only draw more attention to a problem that won’t be so easily solved by increased player fines. “It’s much too late to sit back and take a wait-and-see approach to how the NFL deals with head injuries,” Slate’s Josh Levin writes. “Ignore the NFL Draft. Ignore offseason mini-camps. Ignore the latest free agent signings. There’s only one thing worth talking about in pro football right now, and Junior Seau just reminded us what that is.”

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hasn’t been lenient in handing out punishment related to the New Orleans Saints bounty program. On Wednesday, the final shoe dropped: For their alleged participation, four players were given suspensions ranging from three games to a full year. The Saints only lose linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith, as linebacker Scott Fujita and defensive lineman Anthony Hargove now play for other teams. What that means in football terms is murky this far ahead of the season, but the Saints had already signed a few players in anticipation of a short bench.

The suspensions may not take so easily. The players have vowed to fight them in court, claiming that Goodell didn’t show any of the evidence that guided his decision. Yahoo’s Jason Cole says that such a legal battle could take months or even years, possibly allowing the players to suit up for opening day. “For [NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice] Smith, a protracted fight could help his standing. He has been criticized in the past by players for not making sure that the appeal process over suspensions for player conduct was through a third party,” he writes. “The chance to get a court ruling against the NFL and Goodell would serve Smith and the union well in that future battle.”

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Only one overtime period is required to ratchet the mood of a playoff hockey game from intense to feeling like you just downed a triple espresso. By contrast, three overtimes seems positively sadistic. It took three overtime periods and almost five hours to resolve Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, but the New York Rangers finally snapped a seven-game playoff overtime losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals. Marian Gaborik, who’s struggled in the postseason, tapped in the winning shot with a little over five minutes left in the period, giving coach John Tortorella something to be a little less crabby about. Thankfully for him and the players, Game 4 isn’t until Saturday. “There is a tendency to call any contest that goes to the length this one did a true classic, one to live on in the all-time hockey memory bank. But this is only half-true; fact is, the first two-thirds of this game were kind of a yawner, a game played between teams that prefer to chip it in instead of put all their chips in one big pile,” writes Sports Illustrated’s Adrian Dater. “But, boy, did the game get good when it went to the next full game.”

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In a sports world dominated by cutthroat economics, it was a minor anomaly when Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jered Weaver signed a contract extension for less money than he could’ve fetched on the open market. But an infinite bank account can’t match the good vibes of being a hometown hero, which was validated on Wednesday night when Weaver became the second pitcher this year to toss a no-hitter, striking out nine in a 9-0 victory against the Minnesota Twins. Pitching in front of his parents, Weaver made the feat look relatively easy. Aside from a couple of stretched fly balls, there were no spectacular plays required by his defense to maintain the hitless streak. If only he could pitch every day for the win-starved Angels. “Well, that’s one way to shut everyone up about Albert Pujols and his lack of homers,” writes Yahoo’s Kevin Kaduk. “A good way to start erasing the memory of the Angels’ lackluster April, too.”

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When Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand suffered an in-game spinal cord injury in 2010, it was thought he might be permanently paralyzed from neck down. Since then, he’s regained the ability to breathe on his own and the limited capacity to stand up, no small steps on the long, arduous path of physical therapy. As 2012 would’ve been the year for LeGrand to enter the NFL draft, former Rutgers and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano helped him to another type of accomplishment: a professional contract, to symbolize what could’ve or should’ve been. Beyond the nice gesture, it’s not clear if LeGrand will play any role with the team – currently, he’s finishing classes and training to become a sports broadcasting – but it’s certainly a heartwarming story in a week marked by plenty of downers.

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A purple flower for my love.


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The View

The View

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Best Yahoo Anwser.

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