Back in January, the NFL announced the Hall of Fame's Class of 2015. This year's class features memorable names, such as Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Will Shields, and the late Junior Seau. The 2015 class will be inducted in the Hall of Fame August 8th, and even though this is an exciting time in sports history, it's also a rough patch for a particular family. Like many that have been inducted in the Hall of Fame, one of their close family members usually comes on stage, gives a heartfelt speech, and introduces them onto the podium. For Seau's family that will unfortunately not be an option, since the Pro Football Hall of Fame has declined anyone giving a speech on behalf of Seau and his legacy. This is not only a blow to his family, USC, and Southern California, but also a step back in the NFL's commitment to these players. Not allowing them to speak is disturbingly wrong.
Junior Seau was a dominant, exciting, and team player that left a legacy at the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, and New England Patriots. Coaches will always feel his spirit and players that knew him never had anything negative to say about the kind-hearted player. Unfortunately Seau took his own life in 2012 at the age of 43, after being retired for only two and a half years. A study of his brain tissue found signs of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), and in January 2013 Seau's family sued the NFL, claiming that his suicide was from the results of too many hits in his career.
Before Seau passed, he told his family that if he was ever inducted in the Hall of Fame, he wanted his daughter Sydney Seau to introduce him according to The Times. To discover Seau's career will be remembered through a video and not his own daughter's words is tragic and disheartening. The Hall of Fame's reason for not letting his family talk at his induction disgusts me simply because they think the speech and video is "redundant". Joe Horrigan who has overseen the ceremony for 20 years, told The New York Times, "The Hall used to allow presenters for deceased players but decided to no longer allow it after the speeches often repeated what was in the player's video tribute, extending the length of the ceremony." I'm sorry Mr. Horrigan and Hall of Fame but does the speeches of families for deceased players bore you? Do they take the excitement out of your 3-5 minute videos? I'm sure you guys worked so hard on putting that tribute together for this individual that has sacrificed so much for the league. Think about their family's thoughts, this is something they've had to prepare for and now you take this opportunity from them.
To hear a family...especially a brother, sister, wife, or daughter speak on someone dear to them cannot be replaced or repeated in a tribute video. The video only focuses on their playing career, which obviously got them into the Hall of Fame but there is more. What's wrong with a family member shedding light on their leadership in the community? How great of a father they were? Their impact on others off the gridiron? There are so many unanswered questions when you don't have someone presenting them. This is the most important opportunity we have to really reflect on who Junior Seau was without the helmet, not his tackles, career starts, and Pro-Bowls. Sydney should be able to talk on the behalf of her father in person versus only showing clips of an video which will be two minutes longer than the videos for the living inductees (Thank you so much Hall of Fame committee what a big heart).
I'm sure Seau's family was not going to use the speech to talk about his death, his illness, nor the lawsuit against the NFL. David Baker, the executive director of the Hall of Fame, explains that the mission is to "Honor the heroes of the game". Seau's family has a mission too... to honor the hero in their life that did so much for them and others in the community. Their goal is to educate others about Seau's positives in life while celebrating their gone, but never forgotten hero.