Seau’s Family Won’t be Able to Speak at His Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction
Junior Seau’s family will not be able to speak during his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 8. Instead, the famed linebacker will be honored by a video presentation, in what the Hall of Fame says is standard procedure for dead players.
Seau committed suicide in May 2012 and was posthumously diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease that can result from repeated head trauma. His tragic case increased scrutiny of NFL policies regarding concussions and player safety. Seau’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the league in 2013.
The particulars of Seau’s induction ceremony have caused some confusion and debate, heightened by the controversy surrounding his death. Seau wanted his daughter Sydney to present him if he were ever chosen for the Hall of Fame, and a press release from the organization earlier this month implied that Sydney would indeed be the presenter. Sydney expressed frustration at not being able to speak at the event to The New York Times: “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.”
The Hall of Fame, however, said that in honoring the late Seau it is following a policy initiated in 2010. According to a statement released Friday, the ceremony features “expanded presenting video (longer than the videos of living inductees) followed by the traditional unveiling of the bronzed bust and no additional comments made from the podium.”
In an e-mail to CNN, Joe Horrigan, executive vice president and chief communications officer at the Hall of Fame, said the decision to not have the family speak was made “strictly on the policy” and “has nothing to do with any other circumstances.” Horrigan acknowledged that there was some miscommunication that led Sydney Seau to believe she would be speaking, but he said that has been fully resolved after a phone call. He said Sydney is a presenter in the sense that she is included in the presenting video.
The circumstances surrounding Seau’s death are not expected to be mentioned in the presentation. In April, a federal judge approved a settlement to a lawsuit by more than 5,000 former NFL players who accused the league of hiding the dangers of concussions. For players who retired by July 7, 2014, the settlement provides up to $5 million for serious health effects associated with head trauma. Seau’s family had opted out of this lawsuit, choosing to pursue a settlement independently.
A player who was once nicknamed the “Tasmanian devil” for the intensity of his playing style, Seau was known for his willingness to keep playing despite pain and injuries. His friend and former NFL player Donald McPherson said players such as Seau operated under the mentality, “Ignore pain, leave it on the field and never back down.”
His Hall of Fame induction honors a career spanning 20 seasons for the Chargers, Dolphins and Patriots.