"In eight months, I’ve been working out for a chance to make a choice. The chance, I didn’t have control of. Bill had control of that. But the choice was to be prepared for that chance. So for eight months, I have been training to receive a chance, and to have a choice. And here we are."
This is why Junior Seau is back. In a sport so full of dopes and idiots, thugs and morons, in walks a man of honor who has earned respect in the locker room and on the field. Junior stays ready. He stays ready for the phone call that may come.
"Junior", says Bill.
"Yeah Coach", replies Seau.
"We need you."
"I'm there, coach. Whatever you need."
A man of honor.
I am not delusional. I'm not totally blind with a man crush on Junior Seau. The man's 40 years old. And, in a sport where careers can end before a player cracks his third decade, my eyes are open to the fact that Junior's contributions on the field may not be at the same level as a Jerod Mayo or a Gary Guyton. But he has value to Bill and that's all I need.
In a defense that's horribly thin at linebacker, Seau seems to be filler, a backup role player that might see 15 to 20 snaps on a good day. He knows the system and he's played with many of the best in that system (Tedy Bruschi anyone?). Is he the ILB that will stand arm-in-arm with Jerod and hold down the middle? I don't think so. Could he be the guy who jumps in every now and then for a Mayo/Guyton inside? Probably. More importantly, as he enters his 20th NFL season, Junior's been around.
He has a love for the game and a love for the players in it, specifically the New England Patriots. He's stated many times that this is the only team he'll play with and Belichick is the only coach he'll play for. He'll do anything for Belichick; the two trust each other that much:
"The best thing I do is I lean on Bill Belichick," Seau said. "And the reason I say that is that Bill doesn’t kick around tires and say, ‘I’m just going to go grab a guy that’s 40 years old off the surfboard and say come and join us.’ He has a plan. And his plan is something that we’re going to try and implement, whatever it may be.
Junior is a lot of things. Is he past his prime? Sure, and he knows it. But what he has that this team needs is a fire, a veteran presence at linebacker that we're missing. Maybe Belichick brought him back because he's the spark that this team needs.
One thing I know is that you can’t coach courage. You can’t. You give me an A, B gap, I’m going through there, until I break glass. I will go through the A and B gap until I break glass. And that’s what I do.
Can't coach courage. When so many are whining about their paychecks, Junior is talking about courage.
A man of honor.