The Pro Football Hall of Fame plans to induct Junior Seau in August but they have no plans of letting anyone in Seau’s family speak at the ceremony.
Instead, the Hall of Fame will show a video which highlights Seau’s career, while steering clear from his 2012 suicide and his family’s lawsuit against the NFL over brain damage that Seau likely incurred due to playing football.
But the Hall of Fame does not plan to let Sydney or anyone else speak on his behalf. Instead, it will only show a video that will commemorate his career, while avoiding questions about his suicide in 2012 and the subsequent diagnosis of traumatic brain injury that doctors said they believed was brought on by hits to his head. Nor will the video mention the lawsuit that Seau’s family has filed against the N.F.L., which is trying to curb injuries in active players and address brain disease in thousands of retired ones.
Junior Seau’s daughter Sydney described the decision by the Hall of fame “frustrating” and that her speech for her father “was solely about him” and not about any other surrounding issues.
However, Pro Football Hall of Fame Joe Horrigan told The Times that it is customary to simply show a video for deceased inductees and that the Hall had stopped the practice of allowing family members to give speeches for deceased inductees years ago:
Typically, a video produced by N.F.L Network is shown for all inductees. For living inductees, a family member and close associate then introduces the player on stage for an often emotion-filled speech.
In the past, for deceased inductees, presenters spoke but Horrigan said they often repeated what was in the video, prolonging an already lengthy ceremony. So a few years ago, the Hall eliminated speeches in these cases.
Still, deciding to not let Seau’s family speak AND evading the circumstances around Seau’s death casts an unfortunate shadow on the whole affair. It also makes this statement by Pro Football Hall of Fame executive director David Baker sound incredibly empty.
“We’re not the N.F.L., but the Pro Football 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.”