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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Seau saying bye to stellar career

Linebacker a cinch for Hall after 16 seasons

UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

August 13, 2006



After 16 years, 230 games and nearly 1,600 tackles, Junior Seau finally is ready to exhale.

The Oceanside native and former Chargers great will tie a ribbon around his career tomorrow when he announces his retirement during a ceremony at Chargers Park, multiple sources confirmed.


SEAN M. HAFFEY / Union-Tribune
Linebacker Junior Seau was popular among his Chargers teammates in his 14 seasons with his hometown team.
The end comes as little surprise considering Seau has spent the summer catching waves instead of ball carriers, perfecting his surfing technique in the early morning hours. After tomorrow, he can also begin prepping for his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He'll be eligible for enshrinement as early as 2011, and his acceptance is considered a fait accompli after being voted to 12 Pro Bowls and ranking No. 1 all-time for tackles by a linebacker, with 1,585. Once in, he'll become the first Chargers defender with a bust in Canton, Ohio.

“When Junior Seau was in his prime, when he was the Junior Seau who wasn't hurt or anything like that, there weren't too many guys who could really stand next to him. I can't look at a guy like Lawrence Taylor, because I look at Lawrence Taylor as more of a rush guy, rush the quarterback. But I'm talking about a guy that could rush the quarterback, that could cover guys in pass coverage, as well as play the run. I think he's the most complete linebacker to ever play the game.”

Seau was the public face of the Chargers for each of his 13 seasons in San Diego, starting in 1990 when the club selected him fifth overall. He was the local boy who returned to make good, establishing himself on the field and in the community, where in the last three-plus years his charitable foundation has committed nearly $1.5 million to San Diego County youth.

He seemingly earned as many accolades as tackles during his career, although he has said the greatest joy of his playing career was helping the Chargers reach the Super Bowl (1994 season) for the only time in franchise history. He thought he would finish his career with the Chargers but was traded to Miami after the 2002 season.

History will remember Seau for his durability as much as for his longevity. He did not miss more than three games in any of his first 14 seasons and was sidelined a total of just nine games during that time. Injuries caught up to him the past two seasons, when he missed eight and nine games, respectively.

Seau could not be reached for comment last night, but he figures to have a lot to say tomorrow.


Jim Trotter: (619) 293-1859; jim.trotter@uniontrib.com

By the numbers

UNION-TRIBUNE

August 13, 2006

According to STATS LLC, linebacker Junior Seau appeared in 230 games, 227 of them starts. He had 1,585 tackles, 52 sacks, 15 interceptions, 12 forced fumbles and 90 passes defensed. He scored one touchdown on defense, on a fumble return, and had two receptions as an H-back in 1999.

MOST GAMES PLAYED BY DEFENSIVE PLAYER


1. CB Darrell Green 295

2. DE Jim Marshall 282

3. DE Bruce Smith 279

4. LB Clay Matthews 278

5. S Eugene Robinson 250

6. LB Bill Romanowski 243

7. DE Ron McDole 240

8. DB Rod Woodson 238

9. DE Clyde Simmons 236

10. DE Chris Doleman 232

11. DL Reggie White 232

12. LB Junior Seau 230

MOST GAMES PLAYED BY LINEBACKER


1. Clay Matthews 278

2. Bill Romanowski 243

3. Junior Seau 230

4. Kevin Greene 228

5. Rickey Jackson 227

MOST TOTAL TACKLES


1. Junior Seau 1,585

2. Zach Thomas 1,422

3. Derrick Brooks 1,411

4. Hardy Nickerson 1,368

5. Ray Lewis 1,295

MOST SACKS (since 1982)


Seau ranks 20th

PASSES DEFENSED BY LINEBACKER


1. Derrick Brooks 104

2. William Thomas 91

3. Junior Seau 90

4. Mo Lewis 80

5. Bill Romanowski 74

Note: Statistics from STATS LLC.

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