FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots are terribly saddened to learn of the loss of Junior Seau, who early today was confirmed dead in Oceanside, Calif. Seau, who was 43 years old, played linebacker for the Patriots from 2006 through 2009. The team issued the following statement:
"We were shocked to hear of the initial reports regarding Junior Seau earlier today and are deeply saddened by the news of his death. We were fortunate to have had Junior join the Patriots in 2006 and are thankful for his many contributions to the team over the next four years. He had a legendary NFL career and his unrivaled passion for the game quickly made him a fan favorite here in New England. This is a sad day for the entire Patriots organization, our coaches and his many Patriots teammates. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his many friends who will mourn this loss."
Seau was a 12-time Pro Bowler and veteran of 20 NFL seasons, including four with the Patriots. He originally joined the Patriots on Aug. 6, 2006 and played through 2007 before having two separate stints with the team in 2008 and 2009.
He served as a team captain in 2007 and played in every regular season and playoff game, starting the season's final four regular season games and two of three playoff contests at inside linebacker. Seau recorded 76 tackles (55 solo) in 2007, and 3.5 sacks. His three interceptions that season were the highest total of his career.
Seau played in 38 games with 16 starts for New England from 2006-09 and totaled totaled 161 tackles (100 solo), 4.5 sacks, three interceptions and five passes defensed.
The University of Southern California product played in 268 career games with 243 starts for the San Diego Chargers (1990-2002), Miami Dolphins (2003-05) and New England Patriots (2006-09). The 6-foot-3-inch, 248-pound linebacker recorded 1,914 career tackles (1,460 solo), including 56.5 sacks for 344.5 yards, 18 interceptions for 238 yards, 98 passes defensed, 12 forced fumbles and 17 fumble recoveries, including one returned for a touchdown.
Seau earned 12 consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 1992-2003 and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's All-Decade Team of the 1990s. He was an Associated Press First-Team All-Pro selection six times (1992-94, 1996, 1998, 2000) and was a second-team All-Pro on two occasions (1995, 1999). In recognition of his off-the-field achievements, he was named the NFL's Man of the Year in 1994.
Seau was originally drafted by the Chargers with the fifth overall selection in the 1990 NFL Draft. In his 13-year career with San Diego (1990-2002), Seau played in 200 games, tying him for first on the Chargers' all-time list. He was selected as the Chargers' Most Valuable Player a team-record six times and led the team in tackles in eight of his 13 seasons in San Diego. He was traded by the Chargers to the Miami Dolphins on April 16, 2003 in exchange for a fifth-round draft choice.