CANTON, Ohio (AP) — The rules prevented Sydney Seau from honoring her Hall of Fame father Junior with an induction speech from the stage alongside the rest of the Class of 2015 on Saturday night.
It hardly mattered. Like her relentless father, she found a way to deliver anyway.
The daughter of the legendary linebacker — who took his life in 2012 — provided the remarks she would have given on the stage to the New York Times before expanding on them during a lengthy interview with NFL Network shortly after she and her three brothers unveiled Junior Seau’s bronze bust.
“I think my father would have been completely overwhelmed,” Sydney Seau said steps away from the main podium where the other seven enshrines were celebrated.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame denied Sydney Seau the opportunity to make a full-blown speech, citing a policy enacted in 2010 that allowed members inducted posthumously to be given an expanded video introduction, but denied any opportunity for friends or family members to make additional comments from the stage.
The Hall modified its position a week before the ceremony, giving Sydney Seau a forum at the Gold Jacket Dinner on Thursday night and a post-induction segment that gave her a wide berth to talk about the man she called “a light.”
The Times released a video just before the Seau family walked onto the stage Saturday night that served as a de facto speech anyway. In the segment, she talks openly about her father’s passion for the game and for life, saying he would never admit to retiring because for Seau, that word was akin to quitting.
“Instead he graduates, and this is the diploma he has always dreamed of,” she said.
Junior Seau spent 20 seasons in the NFL, most of them with the San Diego Chargers, and made 12 Pro Bowls. Yet his legacy is complicated by the circumstances of his death. Seau shot himself in the chest on May 2, 2012, at age 43, less than three years after playing in his final game. His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the league in 2014, blaming the NFL for its “acts or omissions” that hid the dangers of repetitive blows to the head.
Sydney Seau steered clear of any controversy, instead focusing on the man who called everybody “Buddy.”
“The reason why this honor is so hard to accept is because we had always envisioned him still being here to accept it,” she told the Times.
Speaking to a packed Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium and a nationwide audience, Sydney Seau used it as an opportunity to say thank you.
“Dad, you gave us your time, your presence your love but most of all you gave us your heart,” she said. “You were more than just enough, you were everything.”
New York Times video: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/sports/football/junior-seau-hall-of-fame-sydney-seau-speech.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=second-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0