What's buzzing:

Shutdown Corner

Junior Seau: The Lightning Bolt

MJD
Shutdown Corner

View photo

.

Getty Images

For 13 years, there was a lightning bolt on the side of Junior Seau's helmet. As the logo for the San Diego Chargers, the bolt was there to symbolize energy, electricity, and light.

The bolt decal seemed to fade when it was on Seau's helmet, though, because he was energy, electricity and light. It was like putting a pair of headlights on the sun.

If those were the qualities you were looking for, your eyes made their way to Seau on their own. He had unbounded energy on the field; so much that you couldn't help but notice him. Before the snap, Seau looked like he was caged by the line of scrimmage. All this energy was bursting forth from the 55 on his chest, and if he didn't get to attack the offense in the next few seconds, it seemed like we'd see a supernova explosion right there between the tackle and the defensive end.

For years at a time, Seau was the only thing about the Chargers worth looking at. He was there in '90 and '91, when the Chargers were trying to overcome Billy Joe Tolliver and John Friesz. He was, of course, there in '94 when Bobby Ross had helped right the ship and the Chargers became AFC Champions. He was there through Kevin Gilbride and June Jones. He was there when the Chargers pinned their hopes to Ryan Leaf. He was there for 1-15.

A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.

Through all of this, Seau's energy level never changed. He didn't play any harder on January 29, 1995, when 83.4 million people were watching him in Super Bowl XXIX, than he did on December 24th in 2000, when the 1-14 Chargers had to play out the string against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Seau's trademark energy and electricity were there on every play, in every game, whether a world championship was on the line, or one of Craig Whelihan's two career victories. It never felt like Seau played for anything he might've gained from an outstanding effort — it looked like he played simply because there was football to be played, and if you get to play football on a given day, why not pour your entire being into it?

That's what Seau was to the Chargers organization — the one thing they knew they could be proud of, no matter what else was happening under the lightning bolt banner. Seau was the light — often, the only light — in the organization. From 1990 to 2002, it never flickered.

Seau was even there, quite literally, at the organization's lowest point. At the nadir of the Chargers' shame — Ryan Leaf's infamous "Knock it off!" tantrum — Seau was the one to step in and herd Leaf away before he could do something truly heinous. Seau was there, like he always was, to do the right thing for the organization. To do what had to be done. It speaks to Leaf's absolute irredeemability that he couldn't succeed despite the presence of Seau, who went above and beyond to welcome Leaf and make him a part of the team.

It wouldn't be true to say that Seau kept the Chargers respectable at all times, because the Chargers were absolutely not respectable for long periods of time. You can't blame Seau, though — he made superhuman efforts in that direction. It's depressing to even consider what the Chargers might have looked like through the Kevin Gilbride/June Jones/Mike Riley years if Seau hadn't been around.

He finished up his career with the Dolphins and the Patriots, but Seau belonged to sothern California and San Diego. He lived just north of the city. His restaurant was there. He's on the Chargers 50th anniversary team. He's in their Hall of Fame. His number will be retired there. He'll go into the Hall of Fame, posthumously, as a Charger.

And for a lot of Chargers fans, he'll be the best thing that's ever happened to the organization.

Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Adrian Wojnarowski: Kobe Bryant feels like a 'brand-new' man in Lakers' playoff push
Dan Wetzel: Boise State's six NFL draft picks prove the program has talent
Les Carpenter: Nationals phenom Bryce Harper needs the challenge of the majors

View Comments (67)
  • Townsend steals limelight from Tottenham team mate Kane

    Townsend steals limelight from Tottenham team mate Kane

    Andros Townsend stole the limelight from his Tottenham Hotspur team mate and man of the moment Harry Kane with a thunderous strike that gave England a 1-1 draw in a friendly with Italy on Tuesday. Townsend joined the action after 70 minutes and … More »

    Reuters - 3 minutes 27 seconds ago
  • Kevin Durant posts a post-surgery picture from his hospital bed

    The reigning MVP sums 2014-15 up: "Not what I envisioned coming into this season." … More »

    Ball Don't Lie - 4 minutes 6 seconds ago
  • Townsend earns late draw against Italy

    Townsend earns late draw against Italy

    England substitute Andros Townsend fired home a superb late goal to earn a 1-1 draw against Italy in a fiercely contested international friendly in Turin on Tuesday. Townsend struck in the 79th minute by rifling an unstoppable shot past goalkeeper … More »

    Reuters - 4 minutes 59 seconds ago
  • Struggling Stephenson doesn't regret signing with Hornets

    Lance Stephenson doesn't regret his decision to sign with the Charlotte Hornets as a free agent, even though this season has been a huge struggle for the five-year NBA veteran. The Hornets gave Stephenson a three-year, $27 million deal this past … More »

    AP - Sports - 6 minutes ago
  • Judge: Ernie Banks' will giving estate to caretaker is valid

    The will signed by Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks giving all of his assets to his caretaker is valid, a Cook County judge determined Tuesday. The witnesses testified that Banks stated during the signing he was not going to leave money to his … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 minute 22 seconds ago