Sydney Seau, the daughter of late NFL linebacker Junior Seau, took the stage at the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2015 induction ceremony to honor her father.
After a moment of silence in Seau's honor and a pre-taped tribute, 21-year-old Sydney took the stage to a standing ovation with her brothers, Tyler, Hunter and Jake, to unveil their father's bust. Sydney did a postgame interview with ESPN to share her thoughts on his father's behalf.
“I think my father would be completely honored and overwhelmed,” Seau said. She proceeded to thank the other inductees and place the spotlight on her grandparents, Seau's parents, who were also in attendance. “He would say that this honor is also [theirs,] along with the rest of our Seau family. He would thank every team, teammate, fan, the community of San Diego, and the Chargers for the career of a lifetime.”
“It is his passionate heart that made him truly legendary, and deserving of this honor,” Seau said.
There was some controversy surrounding the induction ceremony after the Hall initially decided that his family members would not be allowed to speak for him at the ceremony. Seau died by suicide in 2012, 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. A policy had been in place since 2010 disallowing others to speak on behalf of posthumous inductees.
The Hall later reversed course, allowing Sydney to speak. The New York Times reported the late Seau told his family that he wanted Sydney to introduce him should he ever be inducted. Seau did not discuss the circumstances of her father's death.
Seau, a 10-time All Pro and 12-time Pro Bowl selection died at age 43. He becomes the first Polynesian-American inductee into the Hall. A San Diego native who attended USC, Seau became a Chargers fan favorite and played there for 13 years. After a three years with the Miami Dolphins and four with the New England Patriots, Seau retired in 2009.
He finished his 20-year career with 1,846 combined tackles, 56.5 sacks and 18 interceptions.
- Jeremy Woo