Goodbye Buddy

3 Oct 1999: Junior Seau #55 of the San Diego Chargers runs on the field during the players roll call before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Chargers defeated the Chiefs 21-14. Mandatory Credit: Donald Miralle  /Allsport

 

I remember the first time I saw Junior Seau in person was in 1999 when I was shooting a Charger game for the stock photography company Allsport. Being a keen young photographer, I showed up hours before game time, to strip my color slide and c-41 film out of it’s box (yes film) and prepare my dev kit to soup and scan the color neg for the wire. While I was setting up in rat-infested bowels of Qualcomm stadium, I heard someone coming down the tunnel and poked my head out to see who it was and practically ran head on into #55 Junior Seau. I could tell I startled him as well as he was heading out to the field for pregame warmups, and he said “What’s up buddy?!?” I quickly and quietly retracted back to my darkroom to continue my pregame duties afraid I was in the large man’s way.

I was there when he retired for the first time in 2006 at the Chargers Training Camp, after three years with the Miami Dolphins, and I was there when he sat dejected on the University of Phoenix Stadium field after their loss to the Giants and Tyree’s catch in Super Bowl XLII . Living in San Diego, you could see first hand his influence on the community from his the Seau Foundations’ Thanksgiving Dinners that fed thousands to when he ran out on the field and 60K fans shook the Q. Junior Seau treated everyone on and off the field as equal human beings, they were all “buddy” to him. He is going to be dearly missed, a great one has left us…

 

3 Oct 1999: Junior Seau #55 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates on the field during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Chargers defeated the Chiefs 21-14. Mandatory Credit: Donald Miralle  /Allsport

 

TEMPE, AZ – September 22:  Marcellus Wiley #75 of the San Diego Chargers is congratulated by teammate Junior Seau #55 after Wiley sacked Jake Plummer of the Arizona Cardinals during the 1st half of their NFL game on September 22, 2002 at Sun Devil Stadium, in Tempe, Arizona.  The Chargers defeated the Cardinals 23-15.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

 

3 Oct 1999: A silhouetted Junior Seau #55 of the San Diego Chargers looks the field during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Chargers defeated the Chiefs 21-14. Mandatory Credit: Donald Miralle  /Allsport

 

Oct 1999: Junior Seau #55 of the San Diego Chargers points off the field during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Chargers defeated the Chiefs 21-14. Mandatory Credit: Donald Miralle  /Allsport

 

TEMPE, AZ – SEPTEMBER 22:  Linebacker Junior Seau #55 of the San Diego Chargers huddles with teammates during the game against the Arizona Cardinals on September 22, 2002 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. The Chargers won 23-15.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

 

25 Aug 2001: Junior Seau #55 of the San Diego Chargers takes the field against the St. Louis Rams at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  The Chargers defeated the Rams, 13-10 in over time. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Donald Miralle/ALLSPORT

 

TEMPE, AZ – SEPTEMBER 22:  A close-up linebacker Junior Seau #55 of the San Diego Chargers as he looks on during the game against the Arizona Cardinals on September 22, 2002 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. The Chargers won 23-15.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

 

SAN DIEGO – AUGUST 14:  Junior Seau looks on during a press conference to announce his retirement from the NFL on August 14, 2006 at the Chargers Training Camp in San Diego, California. The 37-year-old Seau is retired from the NFL after 12 Pro-Bowl Appearances, 13 seasons with the San Diego Chargers and three years with the Miami Dolphins.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

 

SAN DIEGO – AUGUST 14:  Junior Seau wipes sweat off his brow during a press conference to announce his retirement from the NFL on August 14, 2006 at the Chargers Training Camp in San Diego, California. The 37-year-old Seau is retired from the NFL after 12 Pro-Bowl Appearances, 13 seasons with the San Diego Chargers and three years with the Miami Dolphins.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

 

GLENDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 03:  Linebackers Eric Alexander #52 and Junior Seau #55 of the New England Patriots walk on the field before taking on the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

 

GLENDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 03:  Linebacker Junior Seau #55 of the New England Patriots yells on the field before taking on the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

 

GLENDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 03:  Linebacker Junior Seau #55 of the New England Patriots waits on the field before taking on the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

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