FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Junior Seau didn't have to think long when Patriots coach Bill Belichick called and asked him to put the surfboard away for a few more years.
"He said, 'I've got a position for you,"' Seau said. "He didn't say, 'Would you like to come and play?' He said, 'I have a position for you.'
"That's the world champion coach calling a guy that had just gotten in surfing. I'm going to answer that call. I'm going to answer that call."
Because he did, Seau is going back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995, when he played (and lost) with his hometown Chargers. New England will play the New York Giants on Feb. 3 in Glendale, Ariz.
The Patriots have a chance at their fourth NFL title in seven years, but for Seau it would be the first of his career.
"I don't care if you're a rookie or an 18-year vet -- I don't care if you're a third-grader -- all we ever want in life is a chance, just a chance," Seau said after he helped the Patriots beat San Diego 21-12 in Sunday's AFC title game. "Does that mean a chance to win the Super Bowl? No, a chance to win. And when you win often, it leads into greater things. And you learn that during the course of life. It's just: Give an old man a chance."
Seau, who turned 39 last week, was the fifth overall pick in the 1990 NFL Draft, playing 13 years with San Diego and making the Pro Bowl for 12 consecutive seasons. He had 11 tackles and a sack in the 1995 Super Bowl, but the San Francisco 49ers beat the Chargers 49-26.
"The first Super Bowl we went to, it didn't pan out the way we wanted it to," Seau said. "I took the scenic route to get here. I took the scenic route. But we played and experienced it together."
Seau made just one more postseason appearance with the Chargers, then went to Miami and missed the playoffs for three consecutive seasons. He ended each of his last two seasons with the Dolphins on injured reserve and announced his retirement before the 2006 season.
"I'm a Junior Seau guy," Chargers coach Norv Turner, who was with Seau in San Diego and Miami, said Monday. "There's not many guys like him. If you want to have a young guy understand what being a pro, and being an NFL player is, they just need to spend a week practicing on the same field as him.
"He ranks right up there in terms of everything you need to do to play football in the National Football League."
The Chargers threw Seau a retirement party, and he said it was time for him to graduate from football to other things.
Three days later, Belichick called.
"It wasn't an assistant coach; it wasn't anyone in the P.R. department," Seau said. "Belichick called."
So Seau ditched the whole graduation thing and joined former Chargers teammate Rodney Harrison in the Patriots defense. Harrison, who had already won two Super Bowls in New England to erase the memory of the Chargers' 1995 loss, said he was happy that Seau was getting his chance.
"The way he's worked, how hard he's worked, the sacrifices he's made, going through injuries and different circumstances," Harrison said, "I'm just so happy and so proud of Junior Seau."
Seau was in on six tackles on Sunday, including a third-down sack to force a punt and a third-down run stuff from the Patriots' 4-yard line that prevented the Chargers from scoring the go-ahead touchdown and forced them to settle for a field goal instead.
It's the second straight year New England has ended the Chargers' season, and they're not too happy about that.
That doesn't mean they aren't rooting for Seau, too.
"He's waited for the opportunity to be called a champion and he's got it again. For Junior, I hope he gets it done," San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "I wouldn't say I'm a Patriots fan, but I am a Junior Seau fan."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press