What's Buzzing:

Shutdown Corner

Junior Seau: The Lightning Bolt

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

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Texans OL Derek Newton injures both knees against Broncos

      Texans OL Derek Newton injures both knees against Broncos

      DENVER (AP) -- Houston Texans right tackle Derek Newton has been carted off the field after hurting both knees while blocking Denver Broncos pass rusher Von Miller. … More »

      AP - Sports - 6 minutes ago
    • Want to see World Series at Wrigley? It will cost thousands

      Want to see World Series at Wrigley? It will cost thousands

      Fans hoping to see the Cubs play in the World Series for the first time since 1945 are finding a seat could cost them more than what their grandparents paid for their houses. The euphoria from Saturday night's victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers … More »

      The Canadian Press - 14 minutes ago
    • Second City son: Indians 2B Kipnis has Cubs in his blood

      Second City son: Indians 2B Kipnis has Cubs in his blood

      Jason Kipnis was raised on Chicago's North Side, and like so many other kids, he grew up idolizing Ryne Sandberg, watching Sammy Sosa smash home runs and listening to Harry Caray. ''We have a joke,'' the Indians second baseman said, referring to … More »

      AP - Sports - 24 minutes ago
    • NAACP seeks federal probe after noose put on black student

      The president of the Mississippi NAACP is demanding a federal hate crime investigation after the parents of a black high school student said as many as four white students put a noose around their son's neck at school. ''No child should be walking … More »

      AP - Sports - 31 minutes ago
    • Dolphins RB Foster announces retirement

      Dolphins RB Foster announces retirement

      Four-time Pro Bowler Arian Foster says he can no longer take the punishment an NFL running back endures, so he is retiring midway through an injury-plagued season with the Miami Dolphins. Foster, 30, tried to come back from a torn Achilles tendon, … More »

      AP - Sports - 40 minutes ago