The Pro Football Hall of Fame does not plan to allow the family of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau to speak at his induction ceremony, according to The New York Times.
A spokesman for the Hall of Fame, Joe Horrigan, told The Times that the Hall used to allow presenters for deceased players but decided to no longer allow it after the speeches often repeated what was in the player's video tribute, extending the length of the ceremony.
In a statement Friday, the Hall of Fame said its policy on posthumous enshrinements was for inductees to have, “an expanded presenting video (longer than the videos of living inductees) followed by the traditional unveiling of the bronze bust and no additional comments made from the podium.”
The Hall noted that this policy is not new, but rather, was implemented for the first time in 2011 after Les Richter of the Los Angeles Rams was inducted. Richter died in 2010 of a brain aneurysm.
Seau committed suicide in 2012 at age 43, two and a half years after retiring from football. A study of his brain tissue found signs of CTE, and in January 2013 his family sued the NFL, alleging that his suicide was caused by a brain disease developed from years of sustaining hits while playing in the league.
According to The Times, Seau once told his family that if he was ever inducted into the Hall of Fame, he wanted his daughter, Sydney, to introduce him. ProFootballTalk reported that Sydney Seau was listed as a presenter for her father when the Hall of Fame announced the 2015 class in January.
The Hall of Fame told The Times that a five-minute video commemorating Seau's career will be shown at the ceremony, with no one speaking on his behalf. The video will not address his suicide or the CTE findings.
Parts of an interview with Sydney will be included in the video, however she told The Times the interview was conducted before she realized no one from the family would be permitted to speak at the ceremony.
“It’s frustrating because the induction is for my father and for the other players, but then to not be able to speak, it’s painful,” Sydney said. “I just want to give the speech he would have given. It wasn’t going to be about this mess. My speech was solely about him.”
Horrigan told The Times that Seau's video will be five minutes long, which is two minutes longer than the videos for the living inductees.
“We’re not the NFL, but the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” said David Baker, the executive director of the Hall of Fame. “Our mission is to honor the heroes of the game and Junior is a hero of the game. We’re going to celebrate his life, not the death and other issues.”
The Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the 2015 class will be held on Aug. 8.
- Molly Geary